User research with primary school aged children: case study

User Experience & Usability

consultant running user research with primary school aged childrenDiscovery Education: conducting user research to aid the development of a new educational content platform

Discovery Education supports schools with a range of services and opportunities, enhancing the way teachers teach and pupils learn. We helped by running user research with primary school aged children – and their teachers – to support the design of a new subscription-based digital learning platform.

This project introduced new research methods for us, and ideas and approaches that I’d like to use again in the future.”
Ghazaleh Cousin, Lead User Researcher, Discovery Education


Discovery Education’s new product was aimed at primary school pupils aged 4 to 11 (Keystage 2), so needed to be engaging for this user group. Ghazaleh Cousin, Discovery Education’s Lead User Researcher, wanted a deeper understanding of users’ needs, and asked us to focus our research on the following questions:

  • What features and capabilities should be offered to pupils?
  • How should the product interface look and feel?

What we did

We designed and ran the user research with primary school aged children, combining the use of online questionnaires, workshops and interviews:

  1. Pupil questionnaire
  2. Teacher questionnaire
  3. Pupil workshops
  4. Teacher interviews
Planning the pupil workshops

pupil input during user research with primary school aged childrenTo make the pupil workshops effective, we started by gaining a deeper knowledge of their tech use at school and at home. We used an online survey to gather information from 86 pupils across year groups, learning about their technology use, their favourite websites for school, and more. We also ran a separate survey to gather teachers’ input.

We used this initial work to create engaging resources for the carefully structured pupil workshops. We then ran a co-design exercise in a series of 45 minute workshops, each of which involved 3-4 pupils.

Benefits of the user research with primary school aged children

At the conclusion of this project we delivered a 12 point working design brief for the pupil view within Discovery Education’s new learning platform. This gave the company invaluable design direction as it developed the new service.

Ghazaleh Cousin says, “The relationship with the System Concepts consultants was great. The research method they came up with was very interesting, the pupils were very engaged, and making physical updates to the design worked well.”

She now plans to run the same user research with primary school aged children across different schools and pupil year groups, to substantiate and extend the initial results.

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