P1: User, Task, and Domain Analysis

Problem Statement

Students at Wellesley are not able to get enough sleep the night before their exam when they do not allocate their study time well and cram on the last day. Our main goal is to have our users sleep more the night before their exam while feeling that they have studied enough by helping them distribute their studying over the course of several days and helping them not be distracted during each study session.

Summary of User Observations and Interviews

  • User #1:
  • A senior who was very productive for me to believe that this is how she usually is. She started and finished her 7-page paper from 10pm - 2am. Perhaps my work/sound of my typing influenced her productivity. She works better in her dorm room and under pressure or when she feels like she is running out of time. User becomes easily distracted the closer she is to actually finishing the assignment. (observation)

  • User #2:
  • A first year studying for a Chinese midterm. She was completely focused when she was actually studying, but took frequent breaks. She enjoys studying with other people, seeking out busy places to study even if she can't actually study the same materials with another person. (observation)

  • User #3:
  • A sophomore chemistry major studying for a physics midterm. She started studying a couple of days in advance to help reduce her anxiety about exams. She tends to be highly independent when studying and prefers to study in mid-size, frequent bursts. (interview)

  • User #4:
  • A junior studying psychology. She tries to start preparing for her exams 2 to 3 days before the exam date and plans out what units or chapters she would study each day instead of estimating the number of hours her studying would take. She prefers to study alone in her own room. (interview)

  • User #5:
  • A sophomore who is a pre-med student majoring in economics. She plans the number of hours she would study 3-4 days before her exam and thinks about what she needs to do to prepare for it. She prints out all the materials beforehand to minimize her use of electronic devices. (observation)


    Summary of Interviews

  • User #1:

  • Interviewed a senior who is a double major in Spanish and sociology. She has completed both majors' requirements and is now taking courses she finds interesting. She had a paper due the next day which she had not started at all. I asked her what her paper was about and she said that she had to write a mini research paper on Lady Pink, a Latin artist whose artworks include graffiti and how it is a part of hip hop culture. Her main goal for the night was to finish this 6-7 page paper before 2am. She said she often works in her room unless she has more than one paper to write. She only had social media apps and when I asked her if she would ever consider a productivity application, she responded that she would like one that can record the time the user spent procrastinating for each of her assignments. She says criticism would be good. She would also prefer to have the applicaiton count down the time rather than count up. When she believes she is running out of time, she tends to work faster. This user works better under pressure but says she often leaves assignments until a day or two before they are due.

  • User #2:

  • Interviewed a first year who was studying for a chinese language test she had the next day. She was pretty relaxed when I talked to her. She was studying in the basement living room of Severance Hall, which is a popular study/hang-out place in the building. She had started studying the day before by doing a general review of the chapter. Her plan for the day was to make a list of the vocabulary words and grammar that she had trouble with. Actually watching her, she switched back and forth frequently between studying and doing other things online. When she was studying, she focused intensely on her textbook, taking notes on scrap paper. She also listened to music on her phone, but had her laptop closed. After 20 minutes or so, she would close the textbook and open her laptop. She’d check her email and facebook, and then banter with friends that were sitting nearby. One time she made tea for herself, another she grabbed a snack from her room. She’d then go back to flipping through the textbook and writing things down for another 20 minutes. Afterward, she discussed how she worked in the DOF because she doesn’t like to be alone. She said she would study in a group if she could, but had decided that this particular subject wasn’t the best for that format. Regarding her phone, she had a large number of apps on her phone (Gmail, Facebook, Yik Yak, Solitaire, Sudoku, etc), but none were productivity apps. Overall, it seems that she was only able to be so productive because of the downtime she took. For the time I was observing her, when she was working, she was working hard, but she just took frequent, long breaks.

  • User #3:

  • Interviewed a sophomore chemistry major who had just taken a midterm in her physics class. She discussed how she normally starts studying for a midterm a week in advance by gathering all of the materials (notes, assignments, and readings) that she would need to study from. Over the next couple of days she then goes over everything. Finally the night before, she does practice problems. She says that she scales this pattern up or down depending on how important a test is to her grade, or how she feels about the subject. For example, she hates her French class, so she tends to spend less time studying for her exams in that class than she does for her chemistry classes. When she studies, she typically does so alone at night, either in her room, in the Science Library, or in the classroom in which she will be taking the exam. She occasionally studies with a group, when she feels less certain about the material. At times like these, she says it helps for her to find someone who is comfortable with different materials than her. She learns from the other girl, who explains things differently than the professor does, and she solidifies her understanding of other materials by explaining it to the others in the group. She also makes sure that the group stays on task. She then discussed how she procrastinates by doing other homework that has a later due date. Regarding her phone, she uses it to play white noise while studying. She puts it on 'Do Not Disturb' so that she doesn’t get notifications. The only apps she has downloaded onto her phone are Gmail and a classical radio app. She also discussed how she has trouble sleeping, particularly before an exam.

  • User #4:

  • Interviewed a junior psychology major. Her goal of exam preparation is getting a good grade. Many of her professors have always provided a study guide that contains what students should know, so she follows those guidelines to prepare for the exam. She plans by thinking about how many units or chapters she has to study 2 to 4 days before her exam and divides the number of chapters by the number of days she has instead of deciding how much time she would spend each day because it's hard to estimate the number of hours. She tries to study an equal amount everyday but she usually doesn't end up following her plan and studies a lot during the last two days, spending the biggest chunk of time on the last day. She estimates that the number of hours she studies during those two days is 10 hours in total. When studying, she uses her hand-written class notes and her textbook to type up her study guide on her Macbook. She sometimes studies in the library, common spaces, or cafes, but usually studies alone in her room because she lives in a single and all her class materials are there. She said the time of day during which she studies doesn't stay consistent, except for the fact that she never works right after lunch or dinner because she feels sleepy after eating. When I asked her about self-tracking applications, she responded that she has Self-Control installed on her Macbook but she doesn't have any self-tracking applications on her iPhone simply because it never occurred to her that she needed one for her mobile. She doesn't like putting in exam dates on iCal and instead writes them manually on her paper calendar that is tacked on her wall. Because she studies her room most of the time, she can always see what exams and major assignments are coming up.

  • User #5:

  • Interviewed a sophomore who is a pre-med student majoring in Economics. Her overall task goal of exam preparation was getting an A. She had an Econ exam on Friday, but because she knew there would be a rehearsal for her culture show on Thursday from 4:30 to 11pm, she started early. She studied for 2.5 hours on Tuesday, 1 hour on Wednesday, and 6-7 hours on Thursday. She doesn't use her Macbook and had printed out everything out before Tuesday, but she keeps her phone beside her to check the time and text her friends. Her plan for Thursday was to review lecture notes, review her practice sets, and complete the practice midterm provided by her professor and hopefully do some extra problems. I was only able to observe her for phase 1 and she was looking over the lecture notes and making her own study guide on paper by writing important points and equations from each lecture. She doesn't have any self-tracking applications installed on her Macbook or iPhone. Instead, she tries to minimize her use of electronic devices by writing on paper. In terms of her usual studying habits, she tries to get all her work done early because she likes to go to bed before 12, and studies during the afternoon and early evening.


    Madeline Laslovich: Early Bloomer Grace Thompson: Middle Bloomer Lucy Bravo: Late Bloomer

    Key Characteristics: Sophomore at Wellesley College, Majoring in Physics, 19 years old, From Columbus, OH

    Goal: Madeline does not want to do all of her studying the night prior to an exam and wants to feel comfortable enough with the material so she can sleep well the night before.

    Study Habits: Madeline typically gets started on a major assignment or midterm preparation a week before because she feels anxious the day before her deadline or exam date.
    When studying for an exam, she starts with review sheets given by the professor. She likes to do this without looking at her notes to see what she knows.
    She makes lists of topics to review and then checks them off as she goes. She then spends the last day before her exam solving practice problems. She checks her email and Facebook on her mobile or laptop when she's taking breaks.
    She likes to study early in the mornings and wakes up around 6 every day to study. She finds being with other people when studying distracting,
    but she likes to study in large locations.

    User & Our Application: Madeline starts using DePuzzler because she wants to be sure that she knows the material enough and sleep without having anxious thoughts the night before her exams.
    She doesn't have trouble allocating her studying time as she always starts early, but she feels that the mobile application would help her keep track of what she's done.
    Because she's able to see on her Achievements screen of the application how much time and how many days she has spent on preparing for an exam,
    she believes that she would feel more confident about her knowledge of the subject.

    Key Characteristics: Junior at Wellesley College,
    Majoring in Economics, 20 years old, From San Francisco, CA

    Goal: Grace really wants to do well on her exams and she does not mind going to bed late the night before an exam, but she would much prefer to be done earlier.

    "I make study plans beforehand, but then after I make one, I end up not being that productive because I tell myself that I've already made some progress. I always end up studying the most on the last day."

    Study Habits: Grace starts studying 2-3 days prior to her exams and plans out what she's going to do.
    After printing out all the needed materials and review sheets, she goes to office hours to ask questions. She creates a study guide after looking over her lecture notes and tries to solve her practice sets and practice midterms.
    She likes to study whenever she has time and she prefers to work on her own in her single where all her materials are. She has a lot of mobile applications installed for entertainment or social media purposes, but she never thought about installing a self-tracking application.
    Even though she tries to minimize her use of electronic devices by not using her Macbook when studying, she often finds herself texting with her friends on her iPhone.

    User & Our Application: Grace starts using DePuzzler because she doesn't always follow her work plan and she wants to change that.
    She always thinks she has a lot of time since she starts a few days earlier before the exam date and ends up putting it off. Her studying is heavily concentrated on the last day and she often goes to bed late the night before an exam.
    She thinks that the application would help her realize that she doesn't have much time to waste, as its main screen shows the percentage of study hours completed and the number of days left for each upcoming exam.
    The application's study session timer that pauses when she exits the screen would also prevent her from going on other applications such as iMessage during a study session and thus help her stick to her plan and work productively even if the exam is 2 to 3 days away.

    Key Characteristics: Senior at Wellesley College, Latina,
    Double Majoring in Spanish and Sociology, 22 years old, From Chicago, IL

    Goal: Lucy wants to graduate and then either join a teaching program around the New York area or become a teacher's assistant elsewhere. She also wants to stop being a night owl before she goes out to the professional world.

    Study Habits: Lucy tends to study or start on an assignment the night before.
    When she has to write a paper, she collects snacks and completes readings the day before the paper is due and then begins to write as soon as she is done with her readings.
    She researches more about her topic on her Macbook and then begins to type. She usually finishes sometime from 2am to 4am. However, as completion is near, she frequently switches back and forth between studying and doing non-academic things online.
    She does not get much sleep.

    User & Our Application: Lucy starts using DePuzzler because she puts off writing papers and preparing for exams until the last minute and goes to bed late most of the time.
    She thinks that the application would help her start at least a little bit earlier.
    Its main screen would clearly remind her of when exams and papers are due and the percentage bar would also act as a reminder as it is a visual representation of the lack of progress she has made for each exam or paper.
    Its Study Tips screen would present to her ideas on how she can get started on preparing for an exam if she doesn't know how she should go about creating a 3-day work plan.
    The timer screen would be able to at least reduce the number of available distractions as her mobile phone would no longer be a source of distraction.


    Plan for Taking Exams

    The plan is to score really well on the exam. One of the first things you must do is identify the key topics to review this includes, reading a professor's exam guide for a list of topics (if given), going through notes quickly to identify key topics, and making a list of vocabulary terms from book and notes. The second task is to identify exercises to practice. The subtasks for this second task are getting professor's review questions, looking in the textbook for practice problems, and looking online for practice problems. The third task is to make your work plan so user must find out when SI review sessions are scheduled and when professor's office hours are. The next plan is to identify slots of time in which to study and include review sessions and practice sessions in your study times. Once you have all your resources, locations, and time slots, then study for exam.

    Plan for Writing Papers

    The plan is to write a good paper. The first task is to make a work plan and make deadline for your paper's thesis statements. Then you must identify time to do research which includes setting a deadline for the outline, deciding how many drafts to do, and making a deadline for these drafts. The next task is to come up with idea for your paper's thesis. Then you must do research for your paper. The subtasks for doing research include finding relevant books from the library and it would be helpful to look for books using the catalog or you can just walk in the library and find them there. Then you can find relevant articles off of online database(s). Search the database, skim found articles, and print all potentially relevant articles. Now, you can read everything you found. While doing the readings, make sure to take notes on ideas to use in paper. Once you are done with research, the next task is to creat an outline. For the outline, you must write down all ideas and organize them logically. After you have completed your outline, the next step is to write the first draft. Write all your main paragraphs and create a list of works cited. After you complete your draft, make sure to revise it. Wait at least 30 minutes before you reread your draft. Make comments on your draft and any necessary changes. Update the list of works cited and adjust thesis if necessary. After you have proofread your draft ad revised it, the next step is to get input from others. This includes input from your professor, writing tutor, and other peers. Finally, revise, and edit paper once more.

    Hierarchical Task Diagram

    Task Diagram: Writing Papers

    Task Diagram: Taking Exams

    ERD Model