curriculizer!

A tool that helps Cornell students plan out and organize their entire college curriculums as they progress.

Problem

Not a single existing tool allows students to adequately plan their curriculum and schedules around their requirements. Students must instead use multiple sources, such as college requirements, major requirements, course rosters, semester planning sites, median grade reports, and word of mouth.

Process

Talking to Our Users

As a group of students from a very multi-disciplinary and multi-threaded major, Laiyee Ho, Nick Heiner, Dan Gustafson, and I all recalled how difficult it was to plan out our curriculums. We wanted to see if other students felt the same way, in hopes of designing a tool that will ease this process.

We surveyed a total of 52 Cornell undergraduates about their current curriculum planning habits. They were asked quantitative questions about what factors they prioritize when picking classes and planning courses, and qualitative questions about how they approached the process and the difficulties they encountered.

Analysis of User Data

affinity diagram

From the quantitative data, we found that requirements were of highest priority (in the order of: major, college, then minor), while credits offered and advice from professors and advisors ranked lowest.

Free response answers were were analyzed with an affinity diagram. The natural groupings that emerged were aligned with our initial beliefs - students wanted to keep track of degree requirements, to plan for semesters ahead, and to be able to do it all in one place.

Wireframes & Information Architecture

We set out to give users what they want: "a tool that lets [them] enter [their] major and sort [their] requirements into groups based on Fall or Spring offerings and chronological order of pre-requisites."

Several iterations of sketches and quick storyboards were done to map out the tool's workflow, and to decide what to emphasize.

sketch

We decided on a three-step process that followed our users' conceptual models of curriculum-making: looking up requirements and classes, roughly fitting classes to semesters, and then planning out specifics of next semester's class.

wireframe

Once most of our interactions were designed, the sketches were then wireframed in Illustrator.

Rapid Prototyping & User Testing

paper prototype

Wireframes were printed out onto paper and cardstock, and developed into an interactive paper prototype. With it, we tested potential users (i.e. Cornell undergraduates) to look for usability kinks and errors with our model. Because the prototype was of relatively low fidelity, we were able to rapidly fly through iterations of testing, revamping, and refining our tool.

Solution

pretty snapshot

Planning curriculums shouldn't be extremely tedious, especially because for most students, their experience during and after college are heavily influenced on the courses they choose. By aggregating all the disconnected sources of information a Cornell student needs all in one place into a tool that doesn't overwhelm the user, Curriculizer ensures a successful and less frustrating path to graduation.

Walk through our design with us on youtube!

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