A GADGET designed by a University of Sussex student will tell academics when their class is becoming bored with the lecture.

Cadence has been created by production design student Jade Gidney to measure the amount of fidgeting that goes on within a lecture hall.

This will help tell teaching staff when students are becoming disengaged.

The system works by giving each student a hand-held device at the start of the lecture which they will play with in their hands more and more if they become distracted during a lecture.

A display seen by a lecturer will indicate the collective level of fidgeting in the room.

Three red dots will indicate to them that action should be taken to regain focus on the subject being taught.

Jade said: “I hope lecturers will see this as a really helpful tool to improve how they communicate with their class rather than something intimidating.

“If levels of disengagement are increasing, the lecturer should take this as a sign to change the flow, ask a question or walk around the lecture hall. Fidgeting is a natural outlet for disengagement.

“Disengagement is natural, what’s not natural is trying to sustain focus for hours at a time.

“So lecturers shouldn’t take it personally that their students are fidgeting, they should use it as way of identifying disengagement and the need for re-engagement with their audience.

“It can also be used after a lecture to help academics review their reception and make adjustments for the future.

“By using Cadence, lecturers will have a much better idea how much of their teaching is being taken in by their class.

“If they are teaching to a class that is totally disengaged then it’s wasting their time as well.

“Cadence opens a two-way street of communication with students expressing their lessening attention through fidgeting while lecturers can respond to that and find ways to regain the focus within the room.”

Jade had originally planned to base her final year project around the design of coffee cups but quickly struck upon the idea of Cadence when she noticed how students would play with coffee cups during moments of nerves or stress.

The 21-year-old sat in a number of lectures to observe students’ fidgeting and then tested prototype wireless devices which are inspired by sea shells and worry stones.

Like fidget spinners, worry stones are worked between the hands to relieve anxiety and date back to the Ancient Greeks.

Jade is now looking to work with psychologists at the University of Sussex.