SimStudent marked our first foray into HCI Methods. In this project, we practiced and applied the fundamental skills of Contextual Inquiry, Think Aloud Protocol, and Heuristic Evaluation to improve collaborative cognitive tutoring software aimed at teaching 7th through 9th graders Algebra I.


4 months


Team Members


The Problem

Our client, the creator of the SimStudent program wanted to improve the usability of his product. He also wanted to improve the "real"-ness of the computer's behavior, to make it more like that of a real pre-teen girl in order to encourage the collaborative behavior had made the original Cognitive Tutoring software from Carnegie Mellon so successful.

The Process

Contextual Inquiry, think-aloud protocol, and heuristic evaluation were used to improve the usability of the SimStudent program.

The Solution

In the long-term, our solution for our client consisted of recommendations about the behavior of the avatar, Lucky, as found in during our contextual inquiries.

In the short-term, our solution for our client was a consolidated report of a heuristic evaluation we conducted on the second version of the interface. Our client then implemented many of our changes in his next two versions, producing an more usable product.