Can Research-Based Design Help Boost Academic Outcomes and 21st Century Skills?

The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) has a big job: facilitating continuous improvement in South Carolina public schools. The EOC prioritized development of students’ social, attentional, and motivational capacities as the crucial foundation for readiness to learn. HopeLab teamed up with the EOC to lead a grassroots design process that would engage teachers, researchers, and developers to create new tools to help young students get ready to learn.

HopeLab applied its user-centered design approach to collaborate with South Carolina teachers and develop fun, practical tools they can use to support readiness to learn in their classrooms. Combining insights from scientific literature with insights from teacher interviews, we identified Brain Games, developed by Dr. Stephanie Jones at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, as a tool to help give students opportunities to build their executive function and self-regulation skills in a fun, engaging, and consistent way. HopeLab worked in partnership with Dr. Jones, Daylight Design, and South Carolina teachers to optimize Brain Games for their students and pilot test the product in classrooms. In the initial pilot, 49 out of 50 teachers enthusiastically voted that the tools were valuable enough to refine and implement in the coming year.

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"HopeLab’s approach to research-based design is helping us tackle the significant task of creating life-long learners throughout the state. This partnership has enabled us to think bigger than ever, and we are excited about the process that has been used with our school and teachers."

Melanie Barton
Executive Director of the EOC

"The children love Brain Games. Little do they realize that we are helping them to develop an appropriate skill set for learning."

Participating Teacher

"I have enjoyed the experience of feeling that something is custom to our needs. I have also liked the research to back up why we should do it and the times we have to share ideas with one another."

Participating Teacher
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About the work of Dr. Stephanie Jones


"We’ve been able to refine and optimize Brain Games to fit the lives of teachers and schools with the help of HopeLab’s user-centered design process. I’m excited to continue to use and study Brain Games in future projects and collaborations, with the ultimate goal of improving students’ skills for learning and life."

Dr. Stephanie Jones
Harvard University