Currently, all undergraduate students at Rutgers University have access to a degree tracking tool called Degree Navigator. This system gives students the ability to view the status of their degree progression in addition to planning and searching for future courses. Graduate students in the Master of Information program however, do not have access to this tool. A team and I investigated how graduate students in the Master of Information program track their degree progress at Rutgers.
As a UX Researchers, I investigated user pain points to gather contextual information to support our system design. The team and I started by creating a survey. Next, we created a prototype. Then, we conducted usability studies.
We learned that graduate students could benefit greatly from a degree tracking tool to manage their degree progress. 100% of usability task were completed in less than 25 seconds. This study proves how effective, efficient and useful a tool like such could be for graduate students. Recommendations were passed on the Dean of Students in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.
In designing the research plan, we approached the problem space by defining our goals. The goals set for the study were to 1) understand the pain points graduate students face when tracking their degree progress, 2) understand how graduate students currently track their degree progress, and 3) gauge the level of interest for a degree tracking tool.
After defining the goals for our study, we created an online survey consisting of 10 questions that were aligned to our three goals in addition to collecting demographic information. The survey was created via Survey Monkey, with password encryption and protection, and circulated to students in the Masters of Information program.
After analyzing the survey results, we concluded that tracking degree progress is a pain point for the students. Majority of students were also interested in a degree tracking tool, which confirmed our assumption that students would be willing to use such a tool. The survey results indicate that having access to a system for tracking degree progress could positively benefit the students. After validation of our assumptions, we turned the survey insights into actionable design recommendations so that our team designer could create a prototype. The prototype was an enhanced interface of the current degree tracking tool that is only accessible for undergraduates.
Original design of Rutgers Degree Navigator
Our Prototype of Rutgers Degree Navigator
Five participants who took the survey were contacted for follow-up unmoderated remote usability studies of the prototype. Users were emailed a copy of the interface as a PDF document at the beginning of each session. The study consisted of six user tasks.
1) View GPA
2) View Graduate Electives
3) View Course Summary
4) How many more semesters it will take to complete your degree?
5) How many electives do you have left to take to complete the program?
6) Locate the concentration?
100% of user tasks were completed in under 25 seconds.
100% of users found the design useful.
Task 6 took the most amount of time for all users to complete.