Context

I was hired as a graduate research assistant to work on ProWrite, an NSF-funded project owned by the PACE lab at Iowa State University.

Product

ProWrite is an intelligent tutoring system for writing that will automatically capture writing processes issues using biometric technology, and provide data-driven, personalized, actionable feedback to students in real-time.

Slide Deck

Project Overview

Problem

Undergraduate students can receive feedback on their academic texts at on-campus writing centers. However, this feedback is only about product issues. It does not address writing processes issues. ProWrite is a system currently being built that promises to identify writing processes issues and to offer personalized feedback in real time. However, while the software is complex, the user interface needs to be as easy to use as possible.

Methodology

I conducted two focus groups, with four writing center consultants each. The purpose of the focus groups was to learn more about consultants' needs and wants, and to enable the ProWrite team to create a highly user-centered design.

Insights Sharing

Insights were shared in 2 ways:

  • Slide deck
  • Written report
  • Takeaways

    Positives

    Some unexpected insights came to light that directly informed design decisions.

    This project enabled me to develop the skills and knowledge required to plan and conduct focus groups on my own.

    Reflection

    While the focus groups were certainly helpful in getting a starting point for the dashboard design, they should only be considered as the first step in the research process for this project. The ProWrite team should certainly consider conducting usability testing as they start iterating on the dashboard prototype. Additionally focus groups can lead to biased results in cases where some participants might be more vocal and opinionated than others. More research is needed to ensure that the findings are reliable.

    Responsibilities

    I lead this project. I worked closely with an international team of faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

    I entirely developed the research plan, focus group schedule, and consent form. I transcribed and analyzed the data (written transcripts and pictures) using thematic analysis. I created the slide deck and the written report as well.