The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) is a toolkit designed to measure literacy levels of primary school children in developing countries. EGRA helps educators identify areas within reading instruction that need to be improved. Improving literacy in early grade students is important because students need to first learn to read so that they can read to learn.
Existing applications that facilitate EGRA are out-dated and not easy to use. In fact, it takes quite a long time to plan an EGRA study, configure the application, collect data, and disseminate meaningful results. My goal of the project was to design an easier and more intuitive mobile application that would allow teachers to conduct EGRA with less effort, in a shorter amount of time.
One of the most commonly used tools for EGRA is an application called Tangerine. Through competitive analysis and mapping its user flow, I noticed that Tangerine took a while to complete an EGRA study. I also realized that the tool was overloaded with features - one application was doing all of the configuration, collection, and dissemination of EGRA data.
To address our challenge, it was important to understand the goal of the primary persona. I interviewed five teachers who had experience with literacy assessments, and I began to see a pattern. There was a clear distinction in feature prioritization: preparing an assessment, conducting an assessment, and analyzing the results of an assessment.
Our hypothesis was that by creating two applications: one web application to handle the overall management of assessments (preparation and analysis), and one mobile application to handle the collection of assessment data, it would shorten the time to conduct an EGRA study by simplifying the process and enabling a quicker onboarding of users.
Minimum Viable Product
Our strategy for product development was to prioritize work on the EGRA mobile application, and then roll out the EGRA web application afterwards.
The foundation of basic literacy is categorized into five reading components: Alphabetic Principle, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Fluency. The assessments that are found in EGRA, also known as subtasks, fall into at least one of the five reading component categories. The decision of which subtask to use for EGRA is a very country-specific one, and is based on a number of factors, including language, grade level, and overall research objectives.
*The underlined subtasks are the most commonly used assessments for EGRA.
Once the appropriate subtasks have been selected, the participating student's demographic information is recorded. Following this step, the teacher explains the background information of the EGRA session to the participating student. If the student gives verbal assent, the teacher proceeds to read the instruction of the first subtask in the set. The assessment begins when the student understands the objectives of the subtask.
Every assessment is meant to be as conversational and friendly as possible so that the student does not feel pressured to perform beyond his or her true abilities. Informative prompts had to be included throughout the design of the application to help guide the teacher and the participating student every step of the way.
In some instances, it may be possible that the student responds incorrectly to a question but then self-corrects his or her response before proceeding to the next one. Input buttons had to be clear and easily recognizable for accuracy in recording the student's intended response.
Soon after finalizing the conceptual designs of the MVP, I started working on the EGRA web application. Users would be able to prepare subtasks in any grade and language, and publish packages to its database. These packages would be accessed and downloaded on the EGRA mobile application. Additionally, completed assessments would be uploaded to the EGRA web application for analysis. More on this soon...
The mobile application has been released for Android and iOS, and is publicly available for download. Also, visit the EGRA toolkit website to learn more.