Design research on the UC Berkeley course planning and scheduling systems and interfaces, for the purpose of evaluating a potential redesign.
The scheduling and planning tools play an important role in making students effectively manage their courses and academic programs. Prior to this project, all of us had exposure to the scheduling and planning systems offered by UC Berkeley. In addition to our own pains with those systems, we heard that Cal students have had many frustrations with the existing scheduling and planning tools. Therefore, we decide to dig into Cal student concerns with planning and scheduling their courses
Molly Nicolas, Shweta Patkar
Discount Usability Study + Survey + Contextual Inquiry + Cognitive Walkthrough + Paper Prototyping
To gain a deeper understanding of Cal student’s course scheduling and planning behaviors, we needed to understand the role existing campus tools have on their experience. To do this, we recruited 3 UC Berkeley students for a one-hour discount usability study. From comments and thoughts shared by those participants, we gleaned common behavioral patterns as follows:
Based on the tools that participants reported in the discount usability study, a short survey was created to assess Cal student’s opinions on the usability of those tools and the likelihood to recommend. The responses were summarized into the following results:
As all students must meet with academic advisors when they plan and schedule courses, we thought that conducting contextual inquiries with both students and academic advisors would allow us to dig deeper into the course planning and scheduling processes actually happen.
Based on the insights from the contextual inquiries, the affinity diagram was employed to further identify clusters and patterns. A bunch of common clusters was found between the student group and advisor group, which meant that both groups experienced some similar problems when they scheduled and planned courses with the current system.
With the comprehensive insights synthesis, we mapped out a user journey to capture a holistic experience of Cal students during their interaction with the existing tools to schedule and plan their courses. Specifically, this user journey map documented student feelings, points and delights. Also, we created a layer - opportunity of the user journey map to generate ideas for the redesign and improvement.
As one of the objectives was to evaluate potential redesign of the existing course scheduling and planning tools, the paper prototyping was created to visualize and test the ideas drawn from the user research.
All group members performed a cognitive walkthrough of the paper prototypes. Specifically, one person did the walkthrough, one reminded them of questions and goals, and one person took notes. Each person performed the same 5 tasks, but with details changed to keep the activity constrained but allow for some variety in details.
“Wow, what a comprehensive approach! Your analysis and findings are very deep and detailed. Really nice work!”
Steve Fadden. UX Research Manager at Salesforce.