Lesson 9: Market Research
In this lesson students research apps similar to the one they intend on creating to better understand the needs of their users. Students work within their teams to search the Internet for other apps, then evaluate the ones they find interesting. By the end of the lesson, each team will have a clearer idea about the type of app they want to create and further refine who their target users are. Each team will maintain a list of citations for all the apps they examined for use in their final presentation.
This lesson is the primary opportunity students have to get user input into the original conception of their app. By looking at apps similar to the ones they have proposed needing they may be inspired to change the structure of their app or may even identify an aspect of their problem they had previously ignored. In later lessons students will test out prototypes of their app to perform further refinements.
Evaluate a design based its ability to meet target user's needs
Activity Guide: The "liked" and "didn't like" columns of the chart should clearly relate back to the user needs as described in the "Who is the target user" column.
Evaluate the purpose and impact of a computational artifact
Activity Guide: The apps and descriptions identified in the first column of the chart should show a relationship to the team's original app topic from the previous lesson, and the second column should identify how the apps meet the target group's needs.
Warm Up (5 min)
Activity (40 min)
Wrap Up (5 min)
Students will be able to:
- Evaluate a design based its ability to meet target user's needs
- Evaluate the purpose and impact of a computational artifact
- Arrange classroom seating for teams of 4-5 students
- Print one copy per team of the activity guide
Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.
For the Students
- Market Research - Activity Guide
Attention, teachers! If you are teaching virtually or in a socially-distanced classroom, please read the full lesson plan below, then click here to access the modifications.
Warm Up (5 min)
Group: Have the students sit at their team tables. This will be the default seating arrangement for the rest of the unit.
Prompt: Today we will be trying to learn more about the needs of the users of your app. One way that we can learn about our user's needs is by seeing how other apps are trying to meet them. Before we go look online, discuss with your group the types of apps you might expect to find. Be prepared to share.
Discuss: Give groups a minute to brainstorm the types of apps they expect to find. Ask them to share out their thoughts. Use this opportunity to expand the scope of solutions they look for. Ideally hearing other groups thoughts will provide new ideas.
Review: Remind the class their goal today is to find and analyze other apps in their topic area. They should work within their teams to continue thinking about their target user group and to move towards consensus as to the type of app they want to make. They should not be planning out what the individual screens of their app will look like. That will happen during the next phase.
Activity (40 min)
Reducing Printed Materials: This Activity Guide can be completed online or as a journal activity.
Distribute: Hand out one copy of the activity guide to each team.
As students fill out the chart, circulate to ask them questions about why they chose those particular apps, and how they identified the app's target users. Make sure students are thinking about the target users as well as the general app topic. As they fill out the "liked" and "didn't like" columns, ensure that they are doing so from the perspective of their identified user group's needs, rather than their own personal preferences.
In this activity teams will be searching for apps in their chosen topic. Every student is expected to find at least one app for the team to analyze.
As the team finds an app, they should work together as a group to determine if they are inspired by it and want to reference it as they create their own. It is important that they record the name and location of the app they research, so they can later create a citation in their final presentation.
Focus on the User: Make sure students stay focused on the research portion of this activity. Some teams will want to begin drawing out screens for their own apps. Encourage them to take notes on what they find inspiring in other apps, but remind them they are not to start their design process yet.
In addition to researching other apps, each team should be brainstorming ideas for their own apps. On the back of the Activity Guide there is space for them to write down these ideas as team members propose them. Emphasize that they will have time in the next lesson to make a final choice, plus time in future lessons to design the app. Their goal today is to just brainstorm a few ideas as they are doing their research.
Suggested places for students to search:
- Code.org Public Gallery
- Mobile app classes or competitions such as:
- Mobile app stores like Apple App Store or Google Play
- General web search using Google or Bing
- Try phrases like “app competition” or “apps for social good”
- Include your state name for local ideas or competitions
Brainstorming App Ideas
After teams have found and reveiwed enough apps, give them roughly 10 minutes to complete the Brainstorming section of this activity. This brainstorming activity can also be done with Post It notes. Students can write down their ideas like they have done in previous grouping exercises, then as a team select the top 3-6 ideas and record them on their activity guide.
Wrap Up (5 min)
Share: Ask each group to prepare to share at least one app they found that inspired an idea for their project.
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)
IC - Impacts of Computing
- 2-IC-20 - Compare tradeoffs associated with computing technologies that affect people's everyday activities and career options.
- 2-IC-21 - Discuss issues of bias and accessibility in the design of existing technologies.