Made by yuzhao2

The design of a reflection tool for middle school students

Created: December 12th, 2019


By Anna Boyle, GyuEun Park, Miaojun Xu and Yu Zhao

I. Problem Statement

Kentucky Avenue School (KAS) is a Pittsburgh K8-12 school emphasizing a great deal on project-based learning and student portfolio making. Like many other schools, KAS also encounters problems when it comes to project-based learning.

In our discovery research phase, we identified two main problems facing the key stakeholders (teachers and students). We found that teachers struggle to integrate documentation into the workflow of the classroom due to time and attention constraints. Additionally, students’ approach to reflection is cursory and lacks intrinsic motivation. They perceive reflection and writing as stressful and just another school work.

Consequently, we propose our problem statement as the following: How might we align students' intrinsic motivations with the learning goals in the context of problem-based learning?


II. Vision Statement

Based on our research, we want to focus on students’ reflection and create the following concept vision:

By tapping students’ intrinsic motivation to reflect through scaffolding, visualization, and customization, students find documentation and reflection rewarding, integrated, and natural.

Through this experience, students will be able to better practice their metacognitive thinking, deepen their understanding of what and how they learnt in previous projects, and transfer related knowledge, skills, and dispositions.


III. Concept Description & Enactment

We designed a prototype that focuses heavily on visual elements to encourage reflection in project-based learning.

We created a learning experience map that captures the key features of the prototype.


F1. Support Big Picture Understanding through Project Journey.

Each time after students completed a step, they can use the “create new reflection” function to seriously, completely and thoroughly reflect on their journey. During the project, students can refer back to what they have recorded, felt, and learned in the previous steps as well as iterate on the current step. Project Journey supports learning through making the connection among steps visible.


F2.1 Scaffolding Reflection through emoji and learning progress bar.

EureKAS makes reflection easier by allowing students to choose emoji to get an easy start and to indicate learning on the progress bar before they move on to the actual reflection.


F3. Unorganized thoughts/inspirations are stored in the playground. 

However, we do not want this platform to restrict students' reflection to a specific learning moment when they complete each step. So we provide the “playground” functionality to motivate students to reflect in every small learning moment.


The final design prototype is a clickable website:


IV. Reflection

We took the mission of Kentucky Avenue School into careful consideration, recognizing its commitment to ensuring that students acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be successful both in their schooling and throughout their lives. EureKAS aims to reinforce the values the school places on honoring each individual’s differences and using technology as a tool for fostering creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

  • Based on the feedback from the final presentation and our own reflections, we identified several areas of improvement:
  • Add “EureKAS!” button to encourage the students to acknowledge and record a joyful moment of discovery
  • Create the instructor version of EureKAS, which would provide our team with the chance to further consider the needs of the teachers at KAS
  • Keep conducting usability testing to create a seamless experience
  • Consider more of the context of the use of EureKAS, in KAS and in other educational settings.
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05-291 Learning Media Design

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Learning is a complex human phenomenon with cognitive, social and personal dimensions that need to be accounted for in the design of technology enhanced learning experiences.


The design of a reflection tool for middle school students