Client: Ministry of Education | Project Time: 6 months (between 2020 and 2021) | My Role: User Researcher
This user research study investigates the experience of New Zealand secondary school students studying NCEA to understand how students study, what their process is, how they learn, what tools and platforms they already use, what support do they have while studying, their post secondary school future and what aspects outside of their study impact. This study will ultimately help us to understand where digital platforms and websites can fit into an NCEA student’s study experience - such as current platforms like StudyIt and potential future websites.
In 2019 Web Services redesigned the old Studyit site - since it wasn't responsive, didn’t meet WCAG 2.1, and overall was dated with poor usability.) This was a reasonably straightforward upgrade but we still had questions about the feasibility of this site long-term and we wanted to know from our users whether it was meeting their needs. Our instinct was that it wasn't just the aesthetic & interaction design that was dated - but the entire premise of getting NCEA help via moderated forums perhaps wasn't valid anymore. While the objectives for StudyIt were largely met in terms of establishing a supportive, beneficial learning environment with facilitators fulfilling their roles and creating a comfortable space for student enquiry, peer to peer student discussion was lacking as there was limited to no ongoing dialogue observed to be occurring between students.
Creating a helpful, engaging and vibrant product for secondary students who are studying towards their NCEA, therefore enabling students to reach their potential and shape the next generation of New Zealanders entering the workforce or tertiary education. It is important to show study-specific content as well as content relating to learning, mental health and support and that it’s intuitive and useful to them so that they no only retain engagement to the product.
SECONDARY RESEARCH –
I initially conducted secondary research with another designer to understand and analyse what tools for NCEA students currently exists, analysing competitor tools, current state analysis on our current tools for NCEA students and establishing initial assumptions.
The final task I did for secondary research was creating a primary user research proposal that outlined what user research would entitle for this study, what were the objectives, aims and benefits for doing research. This also outlined the process the primary research and the outcomes the user research would produce.
PRIMARY RESEARCH –
I also created recruitment material including: Research Information sheet (to give to the client and participant enough information to what the study is about), consent forms, user interview run sheet (agenda/question overview) and user interview scripts. By producing these documents for the business and the necessary pre-interview material for the school/students allowed us to be more transparent with are stakeholders and those we would be interacting with.
We conducted 10 qualitative interviews with 10 secondary students between NCEA Level 1 to 3. These were held in two schools in Christchurch and Wellington. Each interview was held for 20-30 minutes each.
An additional focus group was held at a Māori medium school in Auckland. We collaborated with an external vendor to translate our interview questions into Te Reo and they helped to facilitate the focus group with 8 Māori medium NCEA students.
Additionally, we sent a survey with a similar collection questions to the Christchurch and Wellington school and an additional Wellington school to be answered by a larger number of students. There were 142 survey participants ranging from NCEA Levels 1-3 with 2 students as recent graduates. By adding a quantitative approach to qualitative research can provide a more holistic (and quantifiable) view of the study.
I downloaded the excel spreadsheet from Survey Monkey and sorted/analysed each column individually onto a seperate sheet. In many cases one piece of data could give us multiple different findings, so each different finding had to be designed but also communicated with the set of data and findings it was found with. I taught a coworker how to analyse and sort information, and constructed a way to make collaboration easier (and to make sure we weren’t analysing the same data at once). Finally we added the results of the qualitative interviews with the quantitive survey results to produce our final findings data.
Creating the report
While the data was being analysed I started creating data visualisations of the findings to make the data easily digestible. I kept using the StudyIt theme colours of purple, red, blue, yellow and white. When creating data visualisations, I kept in mind to use graph types which fitted the type of data being communicated while trying to balance the amount of accompanying text.
Presenting the report
I created a presentation version of the report that I could present to our stakeholders and NZQA which focused on communicating the most important information, designed in a way that would keep the audience engaged and not fall bored within the hour long presentation.
Things I considered were using animation, colours to seperate the different sections of content, transitions and content timing to help with pacing and illustrations to better communicate content.