Create a solution that Universities can give to their students in order to improve their experience and boost student retention.
Design Tools Used
Adobe Xd, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Mural, Trello.
Understanding the Problem
The current state of student retention and engagement at Canadian Universities is a profound problem with both business and social importance. In recent years, the drop-out rate for Canadian University Students is nearing 25%, and there has been a 200% increase in crisis situations related to mental health.
In order to get to the bottom of things, I set out to define and understand the scope of the problem at hand. I spoke with current and former University Students about their experience at school, both academic and social. I also traveled to Simon Fraser University, where I was fortunate enough to speak with two University Administrators who work for the school’s Student Retention Program, since their job is to help struggling students to have a better experience at school.
Identifying the Opportunity
I recorded the answers from my interview in great detail, and then set about organizing the data into a mental model in order to identify common themes.
I discovered that if I created a solution that would help students to:
Connect with other students
Improve their study skills
I would have a product that would help students succeed, reduce drop-out rates, and would be in demand from both students and universities alike.
Crafting a Solution
I then used Mural's Whiteboarding Software to draft a list of features organized by necessity and feasibility, electing to use a digital platform so that I could take it with me wherever I went.
Next, I used Adobe XD to rapidly create functional prototypes. This allowed me to user test frequently, and use the feedback to validate which solutions worked for my target audience.
In order to tackle the problem of student engagement, I used various Gamification concepts.
I used Nir Eyal’s Hook Framework, in order to create compulsion loops that would making the experience of using the app satisfying and addictive. I used the RAMP Framework (Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery, Progress) to create game elements that would result in an intrinsically motivated user base. I used the MDA Model to design game aesthetics such as Fellowship, Discovery and Challenge, which would appeal to my core target audience. Finally, I used the Rewards Pyramid to design a reward system that would result in high user-engagement over time.
The Finished Product
Once the user has logged in with their Student ID, Inhabit leverages GPS functionality to populate a campus map that can be used to find great locations and people to study with.
When studying, the user has access to a focus timer designed to eliminate distraction, course content like audio lectures, and interactive study games like quizzes that can be completed as a group.
To keep the student engaged, Inhabit uses the central idea of success being journey. By setting weekly study goals and enrolling in pathway programs that teach learning skills, Inhabit populates a list of ‘steps’, or daily activities that the student can complete in order to level up and further their journey.
Finally, Inhabit leverages technology by asking the user for permission to monitor their app usage when in specific locations on campus like libraries, study rooms, and classrooms. When the user succumbs too often to distraction or procrastination, a safety net of gentle notifications is activated to keep the student on track.