Time: 12 weeks
Role: user research and design
Methods: exploratory research (semi-structured interviews and observations), data synthesis (affinity diagramming), storyboarding, prototyping
In this project, our aim was to create and iterate on a prototype of a design that helps students create e-portfolios that showcase their individual learning and classroom experiences. Our clients were two middle school teachers, one in English Language Arts (ELA) and the other in technology education.
The teachers differed in terms of their motivations, challenges and classroom contexts. While they used technology in their classrooms liberally, they did not have an existing e-portfolio process.
Our solution, QVFolio, was a set of tools for both teachers and students. It was comprised of two main parts: prompt cards and a desktop/mobile app. The prompt cards supported students in overcoming obstacles to the portfolio creation process, which we observed during user testing. The desktop/mobile app allowed students to create content for their portfolios.
- Literature review
- Competitive analysis
- Semi-structured interviews
- On-site observations
- Student survey
- Affinity diagramming
Through a literature review and semi-structured interviews of expert portfolio-makers, we gained an understanding of the process. From this, we created a model for portfolio creation. It begins with documenting a project, curating it for an audience, and iterating on feedback.
Next, we interviewed our clients and traveled to their school sites to observe their classes to learn about their goals for their students.
After affinity diagramming to find patterns in the data, we created proto-personas of our teachers and created a problem statement. We presented these to our clients, and they were validated. This gave us a foundation for our design.
Goals: The technology teacher wanted to capture student learning while they were building projects, not only when they were finished. He also wanted his students to share their work with each other, reflect, and give each other constructive feedback.The ELA teacher aspired for her students to see their own growth by creating their portfolios. She had seen her past students be surprised when they saw how far they had come over the course of the year, and wanted them to be able to see that during the school year.
Opportunities: Both teachers emphasize student choice. In their survey responses, the students were proud of their work, and wanted to show it to their parents/family and friends more than they currently do.
Challenges: The teachers both use numerous technologies in their classes, and were weary of adding on to them.
Drawing on our research, we saw an opportunity to create something that would put students in the driver’s seat of the portfolio creation process. We brainstormed opportunity statements and storyboarded ideas, and saw that a combination of several fit our design principles the best. Below is one storyboard, read from top to bottom. The words in the upper right corner – capture, organize, curate, share and reflect – map to the stages of the portfolio creation process.
We knew from our research that our clients wanted their students to be empowered throughout the creation of their portfolios. Our first prototype was designed to help us better understand how they would go about that process, the road bumps they would experience along the way, and what helped.
We asked the students to tell a story of an experience they had in their technology classroom, with the materials we gave them: polaroid camera, legos, colored pencils, paper.
In the second user study, we had our student volunteers tell a story in from their ELA classroom, using google slides. Since we knew that our final design would be digital, we wanted to find the pain points of an online system.
Our overall findings and implications for the final design are below.
Our final design focused on three stages of portfolios: prepare, capture and organize. Prepare refers to what teachers and students do before starting to create portfolio pieces. Capturing evidence of learning through our QVFolio camera app asks students to reflect right away. Organize with the QVFolio desktop program lets students put together their evidence and access graphic organizers, and allows teachers to push out announcements and examples. Since portfolio creation may be a new activity in the classroom, we created prompt cards that teachers can use to help students overcome challenges.