Improving Listening Comprehension

Goal: develop simple way to improve children's listening skills 

Deliverable: mobile, tablet and web apps


Project Length: 4 weeks | Project Date: 2015 | Collaborators: Individual Project

What I made.

I designed a three-sided system that has applications for teachers, parents and kids. Teachers assign my service as part of their students’ homework. Parents read to their kids the prompts the teachers have assigned, while the kids draw pictures based on these prompts. The kids then share their drawings in class the next day. The app collects data about how often the student and parent are reading together, how much the kids enjoy the reading material, and how often they are sharing in class.


Screen Mockups

These screens which allowed me to express what the application would look like in reality.

The visual system throughout the mobile app (for parents), tablet app (for kids) and web app (for teachers) is designed in a whimsical, gender-neutral style. I kept the visual style consistently playful across platforms by choosing large type and bright colors.



I made this prototype in order to get a real-enough version of the application into user hands, allowing me to see how I translated my design principles (shown below) into micro-interactions.

The prototype was based on best practices from multiple reading apps, incorporating features such as jump to page and increase text size. I created a digital system that did not require a traditional navigation, so the flow of using the app was seamless. For example, users were able to swipe down to view the data about reading.



User Story

I made this short video which allowed me to engage viewers and express the overall concept easily.

When I was crafting the user stories, I used elements from various interviews to create a compelling and informative story that explains how the system works.

How did I get there?


I made this research deck which allowed me to understand the problem, as well as who was trying to solve it now.

I conducted extensive user research and led a few concept validation sessions in order to create this slide deck. My most important finding was that schools currently do not teach or test for listening comprehension, doing so only in extreme cases. I also found that children's listening skills are best improved by hearing adults read complex narratives, and that many parents stop reading to their children once their child can read for themselves. All of these things lead to poor listening comprehension.







I made this wall of stickies which allowed me to think of a bunch of crazy ideas and evaluate them until I had a clear picture of what I was making.

I played with different ways the system could be integrated into kids’ and parents’ lives. I came up with several concepts, including wearable devices and technology integrated into automobiles. I finally decided that integrating it within classrooms would benefit kids the most.



I made these wacky sketches which allowed me to visually show users my ideas and get their gut reactions to concepts without needing to make interface mockups.

I showed these sketches to teachers, parents and students when I conducted 15-minute follow-up interviews, after my first round of in-depth interviews. I learned that wearable tech was not a good choice for this solution. I also learned that individual users responded well to having their own personal app, which led me to my final design.


System Mapping

I made these system diagrams which allowed me to sketch out the user experience of my applications, distill basic features, and see how all three of my applications were going to work together.

1st image: This is a journey map showing who uses each application, when they use it, and in what context. For example, teachers use a feature like progress tracking on a desktop computer, while parents use it on a mobile device.

2nd image: This is a basic features chart, something I am constantly updating while I design. It simply states which application does what.

3rd image: This is a user flow of the system as a whole which is a little more in depth than the journey map. It walks through high-level descriptions of each flow.

Next Steps & Key Learnings

In the future, I would like to create prototypes for both the tablet and web application. I would also like to go into schools to do some analog prototyping without screens,  in order to see different use cases and make more specific adjustments to the system's behavior based on those insights. The key take-away from this project is that when designing a three-sided system, it is important to integrate flexibility.