Katie Lamp

Britannica Pathways: Science Note Taking

Applying insights from user research to a digital science education product.




Prior Version of Resource/Notes Page
Prior Version of Notes Prompt

From classroom observations and anecdotal teacher feedback, the UX team at Britannica was finding that one of the biggest struggles for students working in our Pathways: Science program was with the note-taking process.

Two main issues were coming up in conversations with users. One was that students were being asked to take notes mid-lesson, then decide at a later step whether each note supported their selected answer or not.  The second was that the prompt on the form itself was too open ended for this age group.


New Notes Page Sketch-Video Resource
New Notes Page Sketch – Article Resource

I created first sketches, then refined those into a prototype for the purpose of user testing. My director and I conducted user tests with the prototype created in Axure, and a remote desktop sharing tool to facilitate and record the sessions.
Each session was about 50-60 minutes long, and were a blast to conduct. There is a contagious enthusiasm that these teachers bring to their classes, and as we found, also bring to being participants in a user test.


New Notes/Resources Page
New Notes/Resources Page showing prompts

One of the biggest hits was replacing a very open-ended prompt of “I found…” in the notes fields with more guided questions such as “What information here supports or contradicts your idea?” Having a reminder to connect the text they were entering would help to cut down on some of the more random copying and pasting, the teachers reported.

The standout change was actually a change to the flow of the lesson, specifically, when we asked a student to judge the notes that they took, and decide whether the notes support or contradict the idea they chose at the start of the lesson. It was a good reminder to look under the surface for potentially important changes in a redesign.