After completing the Prototype Mode of Design Thinking for my problem of practice, I decided to test my prototype with a specific group of my students. I focused on five students on my caseload that struggle with assignment completion. The group was composed of two juniors, two freshmen, and one sophomore student. I created a Google Sheet for each student I was testing which listed all of their classes on the left-hand side. This would be used to track their grades and missing assignments. I met with each student individually and went over the spreadsheet, how it was set up, and why we were using the spreadsheet.
Upon returning from spring break our schedule was hectic with the SAT, ACT Work Keys, and M-STEP testing so finding time to test my prototype was a little difficult. I took my tablet to my co-taught classes and checked in with three of the students during class at the beginning or the end of the hour. The other two students I would pull in during passing time or the last five minutes of one of their classes. I observed their responses and noted any improvements in their grades and missing assignments. When I checked in with my students in my classroom it was very easy to switch back and forth between screens on the computer and fill in the spreadsheet. With the tablet, our spotty wireless internet would exit me out and I would have to log back in repeatedly to check their grades.
After at least three check ins using the prototype, I began to individually interview my students regarding the spreadsheet. I chose to use this method of receiving feedback from my students because I have strong relationships with them and felt that they would be comfortable telling me the truth. I asked them questions such as: do you think this spreadsheet helps you, what do you like about this, what do you not like about this, and how can we make this better? The feedback I received from 4/5 students was that they really liked using the Google Sheets. A couple of them noted that they really liked the color coding system because they could see that they were improving by turning things in. I thought it was interesting that the younger freshmen students were more excited and the upperclassmen had fewer opinions on the tracking system. One suggestion for improvement that I received was noting the name of the missing assignments in the spreadsheet. We discussed how that could be possible, however with each check in I had the list of missing assignments opened up with their grades broken down in Skyward. One student was brutally honest and said that using the spreadsheet didn’t make a difference because he was not going to do his homework no matter what.
In addition to hearing back from students, I brought my tablet to the leader of the special education department head and spoke with her about my prototype. I wanted to hear her thoughts and any suggestions that she had. I was surprised as she went on to tell me a story about one of my students in her co-taught class. When she reminded him of a missing assignment he responded, “Oh Ms. Masserant already went through my grades with me”. He went on raving about my spreadsheet system and how much he loves the color coding. He even suggested that she start using it with her students. This was amazing to hear!
This design thinking process was a great experience. After the test mode, I was very happy with the feedback I received. It was interesting to see how it helped some of my students. I did not have an expectation that it would work for everyone and it didn’t. With that said, I am excited about the improvements that were made. For some students this just makes them more aware of their grades and now they are logging in on their own more frequently. This may be the end of my problem of practice journey with CEP 817, but I will continue to use this tracking system with this group of students. I will still be going back to my prototype because I have a few ideas on how I can revise my spreadsheet and make it even better.