User Research

Project Coordination


Coursework, Contextual Inquiry



Literature Review

User Interviews

Work Models

Affinity Diagrams


Selwyn Kancharla

Haad Khan

Michael Nguyen

Allix Plymale


Challenge: How to increase the adoption of E Coach in large classroom settings at the University of Michigan?

Approach:  Our team conducted interviews with stakeholders to understand the motivations and expectations instructors had for adopting a learning technology platform and provided recommendations to E Coach team based on our findings from the contextual design process.




All the team members individually performed literature review and background research to better understand our client and the landscape of learning technology solutions.



Our entire team met with the client contact to get a better understanding of the E Coach platform, their priorities and to discuss how we could add the most value through the contextual inquiry process.



We identified a list of potential interview candidates and prepared and revised interview protocols tailored to each type of interviewee.

We conducted 5 interviews with both users of the E Coach platform that included faculty members and student research assistants and experts in the learning technology space at the University of Michigan.

Each of us took turns to do both interview moderation and note-taking.




    Notes collected from interviews for affinity mapping


Notes collected from interviews for affinity mapping


After each interview, we held debrief and interpretation sessions to inform all members in the team about the findings from the interview and collect notes for affinity mapping.



Based on the findings from user interviews, each of us created work models that represented the flow of data across each of the stakeholders and the barriers and breakdowns that occurred in the communication processes.


Flow work model created based on findings from interviewing a faculty member at the University of Michigan


The cornerstone of the contextual design process was the creation of the affinity diagrams based on the notes from the user interviews. We clustered the quotes and findings from user interviews based on common themes to arrive at the broad findings about E Coach. They were:

  1. There was not sufficient documentation or help guides.
  2. E Coach's identity and perceived value was not consistent across the different users of the platform.
  3. The user interface was not intuitive.
  4. Successful adoption of E Coach was contingent upon the platform's ability to plug-and-play into other learning management platforms.
  5. Users needed to be technically proficient to gain the most from the platform. 



We provided the following recommendations based on our findings to increase adoption of E Coach.


  • Create documentation and a quick start guide
  • Create a uniform brand identity for the platform
  • Make the elements within the platform reusable
  • Provide options for integration with other learning management solutions
  • Reduce technical barriers for using the platform





  • Technology is not always the answer to a problem. Understanding a user's needs and the observing them in their own environment can lead to important insights in understanding their requirements and proposing a solution.

  • Users needs and aspirations are unique and it is important to know how different types of users leverage a product to address their pain points.

  • There is tremendous potential in the learning technology space to improve existing products and create new ones that would address the various challenges.