Centra: Centralize all your schoolwork in one place
By: Tu Nguyen, Jack Seery, Timothy Woo
The productivity and academic success of a college student without mental disorders is largely dependent on the student’s personal motivation and the content of their classes, allowing each student to have a significant degree of control over their performance and for the most part standing on equal ground with their peers. This is not the case for students with ADHD, who struggle to maintain focus/concentration and are easily distracted, leading to reduced productivity and efficiency compared to their peers as well as increased difficulty in social situations. This problem has continuously worsened in the digital age with more notifications, cluttered workspaces, and other distractions than ever before, and these students would benefit greatly from designs that help reduce distractions and help focus. We have researched and designed a solution to some of these problems for college students with ADHD, with the intent of centralizing the student’s workflow and helping students finish their work by the deadline, without adding any more complexity or potential distractions to their lives.
Our solution is a mobile application that takes existing teaching websites such as canvas and gradescope and organizes them within the app. It schedules the assignments and lectures accordingly per day, assigning tasks to be completed in a timely manner, reducing procrastination and increasing better time management. The app includes a minimalistic and user-friendly interface that prevents unnecessary clutter and distractions when using the app. The app centralizes workflow into a single application, preventing the need to keep up with multiple different websites and interfaces for each course. There will be timely alarms and notifications throughout the day to keep you on track throughout the day and will schedule any uncompleted assignments based on priority and deadlines for the upcoming days. The application will allow students to keep track of their progress throughout the day as well as stay on track to completing their assignments on time in an organized and timely manner.
Paper Prototype, Testing Process, and Results:
We created a paper prototype of our design concept by creating an app which contained all of our design solution ideas, with individual components for each part of our app. We built different prototype screens for each scenario in which the app would be used, and movable components for the various features we wanted to test, such as notifications for assignment due dates and connecting external websites to the app. We tested the user’s ability to set up the app by linking websites and looking at the overview of all assignments in one of our usability tests, and in the other we tested the user’s ability to go from seeing a notification about an upcoming due date to marking the assignment as completed within the app. During our usability testing, we found a number of issues with our design and new ideas were made apparent to us, resulting in our digital prototype functioning differently than our paper prototype.
Among the changes made were the adjustment to the initial start screen, which we changed to allow the user to log in so they could transition their data between multiple devices without needing to re-enter the same information. We encountered multiple minor issues with the website linking screen, where we found that users might end up leaving the screen without saving their websites, or could become unsure of what websites to add, so we modified our design to accommodate a list of possible websites the user could add as well as reminding the user to save their websites before leaving the page. We also found our previous page names were unclear to users, and so renamed “Home” to “Today’s Schedule” and renamed “Overview” to “Show All Tasks” for clarity. In our original prototype of our design we intended completed assignment to disappear from the list of tasks once marked as completed by the user, but when doing user testing found that there are many cases in which a user might want to look at previously completed tasks, so changed our design to move the completed tasks to the bottom of the list rather than disappearing. As a simplification to our design we also removed the assignment details dropdown functionality, which was done to remove additional distractions and focus on the core functionality of our solution.
Our digital mockup includes a simple interface with a simple color scheme of gray and orange to reduce the number of distractions on the screen. We have included a login and onboarding screen to allow users to use the app on multiple devices as well as feedback given to the user when they have no websites added yet.
A user can centralize their workflow and schoolwork through the app by adding their class websites, which will be organized and added to the overview page, where they can see upcoming assignments and tasks.
If the user wants to keep track of their progress on assignments and complete them on time, they can access the daily task screen, where they will be able to complete the tasks in order, with assignments split up to prevent burnout. The mockup allows the user to interact with their assignments and see the details for each task that is assigned to them for the day.
Among our target group of college students with ADHD, we found in our research that an overwhelming majority of these students had academic issues with completing assignments and being distracted while working. As college students taking multiple classes along with extracurriculars and other external activities, members of our target group were constantly being distracted by busy schedules, and many felt overwhelmed by the large number of assignments and events for their classes spread across multiple websites. From this research, we chose to design a solution that would condense the user’s schedule items and academic assignments into a single place, thus eliminating the need for users to constantly check multiple websites for schedule items and assignment due dates. This solution can eliminate the nagging thoughts a busy schedule incurs by placing all schedule items in the same place as academic assignments, which allows students to work on assignments without worrying about the next event or checking a variety of websites. The result is to drastically reduce the distractions of current students and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by balancing their many calendars, thereby increasing the student’s productivity and helping them perform better academically.