Getting into the mind of a six-year-old

Whizz’s product team has been busy researching and designing ways to make Maths-Whizz even more exciting for students.  We believe that the only way to conduct research is to put ideas in front of users and hear their thoughts first-hand.

On Friday 3rd June, the Product room at the Whizz Education London Office was transformed into a user research hub.

A less-than-spritely Start

Picture the scene: it’s a dreary Friday morning during the May half term. While many children are enjoying some much needed rest after a busy half-term, seven energetic six-year-olds are making their way to the Whizz offices to participate in user testing.

The children arrive at 09:30, a little shy and a little apprehensive.  They gather nervously, making sure mum is close by.

The Whizz team welcomes the children; understanding that they need to be made comfortable in a new and unfamiliar environment. The simple task of creating name badges quickly turns wariness into giggles. The mums sneak out undetected to grab a peaceful coffee.

With their colourful name-tags firmly affixed, the children are ushered into the Product room.  They see Maths-Whizz plastered on the screens in front of them. Excitement levels rise.

Let the testing begin!

The day was geared towards answering four key questions around the student experience:

  • Accuracy: How easily do students grasp what is being asked?”
  • Attention span: How long does it take students to read the questions and instructions?
  • Exploration: What other sections do students explore in the student environment?
  • Help: In which areas do the children ask for the most help?

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A recurring challenge throughout the day was getting into the mind of a six-year old. Some of the students struggled to articulate their thought process – not uncommon for students that age. Change of tact: we sat with the students individually and asked targeted but open questions to tease out their thinking.

Observation is key

The Whizz team divided into two groups: one group asking the children questions, the other furiously scribbling notes to capture every interaction and insight.

We found that younger aged students typically do not read text, and rely almost entirely on their instincts as they move through lessons. The design implications are clear: instructions and calls to action need to be simple, engaging and intuitive.

Students are also extremely reactive to what they see in front of them – scenarios are very ‘black and white’ for them.

Work mixed with play makes for a fun day!

In between using the Tutor and designing a new pet for the Whizz shop, this ruthless bunch managed to fleece our Head of Product out of his loose change while playing Velcro darts (with some counting activities thrown in for good measure). He didn’t stand a chance.

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Of course, the day would not have been complete without a visit from our very own Maths-Whizz Professor.  The much-loved mascot handed out trophies to the children and awarded them each the title of Maths-Whizz Champion. Their cheering could be heard all the way across Paddington Station.

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What students had to say:

The tutor shows you fun games and exercises” Sophia, 6 years old.

“I won’t use Jumping if the exercises are fun and quick” Alexander, 6 years old.
“Doing Maths-Whizz makes me confident and now I like learning maths.”
 Javith, 6 years old.

What one mum had to say:

201606-UK-4“Just wanted to say that the Maths-Whizz team have set a precedent and you now have a fan ready to participate in whatever experiments you want her to!  She just can’t stop talking about it :).

‘Maths-Whizz Champion’ is now the header on Margo’s precious drawing board…and the Whizz trophy tucked safely under the pillow.  I can’t think of a better compliment. “
Svetlana, Parent

 

The insights from the day were fascinating, and we are in the process of turning the lessons learned into informed enhancements to the Product.

Our commitment to user research is stronger than ever. We are always looking to work with students, teachers and parents to test new ideas around the Product.

Want to get involved?   We’d love to work with you – drop us a note at product_team@whizzeducation.com for more details.

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