I wanted to talk about this earlier in the week, but I didn’t feel like I had the right amount of time then, and good things take time.
But on Monday, I participated in a design thinking flashlab challenge around how we demonstrate mastery of learning. Other than students, there were teachers, faculty members, and also 9 different college reps that attended this event. The whole day, thoughtfully put together by our college councilors, was intended to get these college reps to better know MVPS and to also get them to help us as we try to redesign our school transcript.
Mount Vernon does a lot of things that aren’t like the typical high school, like the iProjects and ID, so we want a way to quickly represent who we are to college reps that says more than just “these our my grades”. Through some empathy work I realized though that the college reps really do need those numbers on the transcript to help them quickly go through a lot of information. They don’t have the time to read through some giant transcript (anything more than a page) and try and figure out the meaning of different titles.
Due to this discovery, I was really surprised during the designing thinking challenge with how open the college reps were to new ideas. When we talked about the “ideal college student”, we mentioned a student that is passionate, motivated, a team player, creative, ethical, good at solving problems, and a person that wanted to learn. They even recognized that these traits are not what is captured about a student on their transcript. These gap even led one college rep to suggest that perhaps the transcript isn’t the problem, but that the entire process needs to be changed in order to better learn about a student with these traits in mind.
The prototypes we created for our users were done after diving deep into times when people felt that they weren’t properly recognized for their learning. These prototypes had some common themes of needing to be simple to create and digest, able to capture the emotions during a learning moment, and in most cases people would want to share these accomplishments publicly as well as to college reps. Have you ever imaged students wanting to share their transcripts publicly to non-college reps?
Now even with some remarkable ideas as far as how the process will need to change eventually, we have to take little steps at a time. This means, we still need some basics: grades, GPA, classes taken, name, school, etc…
With this in mind here is my idea for prototype 2.0 of a high school transcript:
Some specific thoughts I had were to put the core subjects in the same order every time so it is easy for schools that are scanning for STEM courses for example, to quickly look and find all of the math and science classes you took. It would be divided by grade level though so colleges could look at the diversity of your schedule from year to year. There would also be a GPA for each year, but the cumulative GPA at the top for quick access along with the total number of AP and Honors you took out of the number offered at the school.
There would also be an astrict next to any class put under the category of “Project Based Learning”, for example iProject and iDiploma would fall under this category. At the bottom of the page there would be a quick key with sentence descriptions of the work done during this PBL learning so that if a college wanted to learn more they would see it. By bringing up this work on the transcript it will let colleges know that it is important to us and it makes it obvious that this was not a typical class with grades, it is something different and noteworthy.
The last big thing is that for each year students would pick what their favorite class is and that title will be highlighted. This gives the college reps a little more insight into what a student really enjoys and helps make the transcript more personal to every student. A transcript gets to introduce a student’s story to a college rep, so I think it would help if a college rep could get this little insight about a student right from the start.
And that is my transcript prototype 2.0, and I can’t wait to see what the end product looks like!