Lessonbee: Managing Stress and Building Resilience
A digital lesson in mental health for students in grades 6-12.
Product Designer, UX Designer, Researcher, Visual Designer, Writer
Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Articulate Storyline 360
User Interviews, Storyboarding, User Journey, User Flows
Lessonbee is a company that creates digital, interactive lessons in health education for students at grades K-12. Health Education is often set as a low priority in schools, and often does not cater to the way students think and feel. Digital lessons are designed to engage students as well as teach them in a comfortable, private environment where they feel they can be honest about themselves. The lessons also communicate to the students in ways that are culturally relatable, and they assess misconceptions students may have.
My team and I were tasked to create a digital lesson in mental health that teaches students about managing stress and building resilience. The lesson had to be engaging, fun, educational, and culturally responsive. It also had to assess the students to make sure they absorbed the knowledge taught, as well as assess misconceptions students may have about mental health.
Our research phase was split into three parts: learning how to engage students, what content to teach in the lesson, and what misconceptions students may have had on mental health. The lesson content was provided to us via subject matter expert.
Getting to know the Students:
We conducted user interviews to learn what engages students based on previous digital lessons they had taken.
- Key takeaways:
- Engaging in text message conversations
- General conversation interactivity
- Interactivity with story
- Semi realistic illustrative style (as opposed to a more "cartoony" style"
- Students' Misconceptions on Resilience:
- Resilience is about having a thick skin
- Resilience is about being able to accept defeat
- People are born resilient
- Students' Misconceptions on Relaxation:
- Watching television and browsing social media are effective ways of relaxing
- Relaxation is not productive and therefore not worth the time
- Relaxation should only be done after finishing all required work
We performed additional online research on common stressors teens and preteens face. This would guide us to creating a lesson that is relatable for students. These stressors included:
- Body Image
- Studying for exams (i.e. test anxiety)
- Family conflict
Once the research phase was finished, we moved to the planning phase. This involved laying out what information was to be taught, how to address misconceptions students might have, how the students would be assessed, all while keeping the user journey in mind.
Synthesizing Our Users' Thoughts:
I planned out our lesson and story and brainstormed ideas on how to engage students on the whiteboard.
We planned out the concepts that would be taught in the lesson that students would relate to including the nature of stress, causes and effects, body image, and ways of managing stress.
We brainstormed ideas on how to teach the nature of stress to students in a fun and engaging way with a graphic of a brain that students could interact with.
We listed topics on body image to cover in the lesson including possible assessment questions.
We listed possible causes and solutions and assessment questions on the topic of interpersonal stress.
Visualizing the Story:
After planning what should be taught in the lesson, I drew a storyboard of rough sketches that give a visual of how the lesson would play out. These sketches got everyone in the team on the same page, and helped brainstorm further ideas.
I began with a board that establishes the scene, allowing the student to choose their story path, and a way to deal with the student's possible misconceptions.
Above is the path of Chioma, who struggles with body image. These boards visualize another way of exploring the user's possible misconceptions by having them control how characters respond to other characters through a comic book style.
The third set of boards follows the path of Isaac, a character who struggles with test anxiety. Here, we were able to visualize texting conversations as well as a reflection question.
Above is the path of Liam, who struggles with family conflict. This was a good opportunity to visualize a fun interaction that allows the user to interact with a brain diagram to learn about the neurological causes and effects of stress.
Creating the Characters:
After the story was fully planned out, we created moodboards to show what our characters would look like.
Drawing the Story:
We started with black and white sketches, and we were confident so we moved to color.
Edited illustrations with color:
With all of the illustrations complete, I finalized the edit with all of the interactions included.
The lessons allows the student to choose to follow the stories of different characters who experience different types of stress. The lessons takes the student through a simulated texting conversation that relates to the way students converse that is entertaining. The student can also interact with the conversation by choosing how a character responds.
Comic Book Style:
The lesson also presents conversation in different ways. Here, the student can choose how a character responds in the conversation based on the student's prior knowledge. Through this style of adaptivity, the lesson is able to address the student's misconceptions, and teach accordingly.
Another method of adaptivity is deciding what characters are thinking to themselves.
In this example, the lesson needed to know if the student is already familiar with certain concepts such as "fight or flight". The lesson can teach according to the student's misconceptions by having the student answer simple ungraded questions.
We wanted the lesson to teach the student about the relationship between stress and the human brain. In order to make this dry and technical part of the lesson more engaging, we "gamified" the experience by creating an interactive brain that the student can click on in order to learn more stess and the brain.
To bring it back home, we wanted the student to reflect on how they could apply what they learned in the lesson to their own personal lives.
We’ve had very positive feedback from both students who took the lesson and the school staff. The following quotes are from three different people:
"I like being able to text with the characters because it made it feel more realistic and modern."
- 8th Grade Student
"Lessonbee helps me feel more prepared if this type of situation comes and it would prepare others because it would help them learn about themselves."
- 8th Grade Student
"I love how Lessonbee offers students an opportunity to ask questions without being embarrassed."
- School Director