Date: September 2021 - January 2022
Project Type: Individual project
Location: Delft, the Netherlands
How can we help students focus on their studies while feeling connected with others?
Have you ever caught yourself looking at the wall or a fly when you were supposed to focus on a lecture or work? I bet you have. Many people with ADHD experience this on daily basis with most of the activities. Through an observation research in a classroom of an elementary school in the Netherlands, where two students with ADHD were included, it was noticed that there were some students who have difficulty concentrating on their study had to isolate themselves completely, which created awkwardness and disconnection with other students. This project addresses the obstacle faced in this situation not only for students with ADHD but also for other students. This project has been awarded by European Product Design Award and featured by Yanko Design, Core 77 and Delft Institute of Positive Design.
Being part of the group vs Having a place of concentration
Observation research took place for one week, where students were observed in their classroom during regular class activities. During the observation, it was noticed that students were allowed to walk to other students because they were encouraged to work on assignments together. While they enjoyed this collaboration, it causes distraction for some other students. For this reason, those who are not good at concentrating, isolated themselves from other students to focus. While isolation is the best way for them to study, it might cause separation from those who do not require isolation to focus.
Thus, my design goal was to enable students with ADHD to construct their physical bubble that helps them focus, without feeling disconnected from other students.
Being inspired by students' playful engagement with the prototype
The initial prototyping phase consisted of cards with two different messages, “I want to focus” and “I want to work with you” on the opposite sides. The idea behind this prototype was to enable them to convey their feeling to other students. Their response was positive, but not in the way I expected. The children soon lost interest in the texts on the cards, but they really enjoyed pinning them between the desks. Therefore, I decided to take that pleasure as the starting point for a new design. I made flower and tree-shaped cards and asked students to use them. From this test, what I found was that students enjoyed building up their physical bubble with others students.
Withdraw into your concentration bubble
The final design is Forest: a set of desk partitions and a slot profile that attaches to the table. With the cut-out shapes of animals, trees and plants, the partition can be arranged by students creating their original scenery. And this playfulness encourages other students to join in the building of a physical bubble which limits the students’ intake of environmental interference. My intention behind this design is to give students autonomy to choose how high and how dense their Forest (partitions) would be.
The parts are made of wood and painted with soft colors that are limited to specific shades of yellow, green, and turquoise blue. Those colors are calming the eye and help studnets focus on their studies.
Compared to existing desk partitions which are overwhelmingly big, Forest consists of small size of playfully shaped partitions. So, when you see a single piece of the partition, you won’t get the impression that it’s something that constructs the bubble, which encourages students to interact with the pieces and build their own bubble while expanding their creativity.
Students enjoyed building up their bubble with other students
In the evaluation test that involved four neuro-typical students and one student with ADHD, all students found the final design to be useful for focusing on their assignments. Also, it was seen that they constructed the partitions with other classmates. This collaboration made them feel connected with each other.