Stanford HCI Group
During the school year, I am an undergraduate researcher at the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Group. I work under Griffin Dietz on the StoryCoder Project and James Landay's Smart Primer.
Timeline: January 2021 - Present
Skills: User Research, User Design, Data Analysis, Needfinding
Computational Thinking (CT) reaches only a fraction of young children, in part because CT learning tools often require expensive hardware or fluent literacy. Informed by needfinding interviews, we developed a voice-guided smartphone application leveraging storytelling as a creative activity by which to teach CT concepts to 5- to 8-year-old children. The app includes two storytelling games where users create and listen to stories as well as four CT games where users then modify those stories to learn about sequences, loops, events, and variables.
For the first couple of weeks, I played through the app through different potential personas to better understand the app itself and the user experience in their perspective and find ways to improve upon it. I studied some research papers to understand the app’s research area: computation thinking, including Cheng’s Repair Strategies from Children, Brennan + Resnick’s Framework for Computational Thinking, and Myer’s paper to understand how to classify obstacle and tactics in research. Specifically, when reading Myer’s paper,
I began to think about some obstacles that I ran into as in my “child persona” and thought that would be interesting to pay attention to when potentially designing or redesigning an app; this includes errors in intuition design errors, poor app feedback, lack of error messages, and vague instructions how to use the app.
Afterward, I individually watched certain participants’ videos and coded them with a new codebook. Every week, we would come together and compare our codes, in hopes of meeting a reasonable correlation. During this process, we would keep iterating on the codebook and re-code. However, with the difficult code set, it was hard for us to reach that point, and at that point, we realized coding the children’s videos wasn’t necessary in helping us ideate our new research question.
We are pivoting our focus to the actual app redesign and the team has been coming up with our own wire flows that would best fit StoryCoder’s goal of helping preliterate children learn fundamental STEM concepts. We look at different types of story-building/STEM games for kids, like Scratch Jr. and Toontastic, and try our best to get inspiration but ensure that we are tackling a different issue and helping kids understand these STEM concepts through a storytelling type app.