Google Design Exercise

Overview:

At the beginning of each new semester or school year, teachers are faced with the challenge of remembering names for a large number of new students. I needed to design an experience that would help an educator match faces to names, with the goal of shortening the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy.

Friction:

A quick Google search shows that this problem is experienced by almost all teachers. On their first day of class, some teachers will see up to 100 different faces rotating through their desks. I personally have never had to memorize such a large number of names in a short amount of time, so I decided to interview teachers who are more familiar with the problem.

Nick C.

High school math teacher
  • Can memorize the names by the end of the first day. Other teachers it takes 1-2 weeks.
  • Has access to students photos beforehand.
  • Uses repetition and word association. Say, Brian has blonde hair. Brian/blonde.

Kristin S.

Pre-School teacher
  • Takes her own photos during enrollment
  • Quizzes herself to see if she has her names memorized
  • Some names are very similar. Have to work specifically at getting these correct. Aleya/Alaya.

The biggest take away from these interviews for me was the desire for them to know all of their student’s names on or before the first day. Both teachers were able to see immediate benefits when correctly using a student’s name, providing a great initial connection.

In addition to the interviews, I also wanted to understand which strategies are most effective for remembering names. I began reading through research journals on scholar.google.com and noticed one that was consistently being cited. Memory for Proper Names by Gillian Cohen and Deborah M. Burke detailed a series of name memorization studies. In those studies, they discovered one strategy that was most commonly reported as being used by both younger and older adults. That strategy was to “find a distinctive feature of the face and relate it in some way to a meaningful elaboration of the name.” This fact was also brought up when I interviewed Nick. The student’s face is a unique identifier, and highlighting a unique facial feature would provide them with that meaningful connection to their name.

Ideation:

With all of this research completed, I decided to write down a simple list of objectives that I should focus on achieving. These objectives would help to be my North Star during the ideation process. They’ll provide a level of constraint that helps keep me focused, and of validation to make sure the user’s needs are being met.

Objectives:

  • Connect faces, facial attributes, and names
  • Achieve a memorization time of 0-to-2 days from the beginning of the semester
  • Provide a quizzing feature