CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

CU Thrive App

Helping college students improve productivity and mental health.
Note: ideation of this project was done with a group for coursework. However, this case study is written by myself. I will discuss limitations of the coursework requirements and the work I completed individually (apart from the team).

Work culture in U.S. colleges disproportionately emphasize rigorous academics and extreme productivity over holistic well-being. Cornell University is known for its academic rigor and high stress levels which results in many students struggling with mental health. Students are struggling to complete course work on time due to mental health obstacles which further triggers a vicious cycle of poor mental well-being. This problem has only been exacerbated during COVID-19 as normal routines, and life as we know it is disrupted.


Students want to improve their mental health so they can focus and maintain motivation, but are struggling to do so because it’s difficult to:

  • Access mental health resources as health centers are fully booked and short-staffed.
  • Find safe indoor opportunities for studying, exercise, and social gatherings.
  • Adjust to new routines caused by COVID-19.

Users: College students who have trouble regularly maintaining good mental and physical health. This group also extends beyond students as it impacts all of our lives.


User Research + Market Research ⟶ Ideation ⟶ Feedback ⟶ Final Product

User Research: I recruited fellow college students via email, social media flyers, and lectures announcements. My goal was to gain a deeper understanding of ways they experience self-motivation (which heavily affects mental and physical health). I also identified students’ pain points.

Market Research: I found that the main types of apps existing within the solution-space focus on mental health, maintaining focus, motivation, and organization.

  • Focus apps: steer users away from distractions on their phone and laptop either through gamification (Study Bunny: Focus Timer, Forest: Stay Focused, and Pocket Points) or by completely blocking distractions (Cold Turkey, Focus Keeper).
  • Mental health apps: allows users to journal their emotions and visualize their mood on a mood tracker throughout the day (Reflectly). Facebook’s emotional health feature also gives users information on accessing mental health resources and services.
  • Motivation apps: focus on habits streaks and trackable tasks so that the user stays motivated to stick to habits and tasks. (Strides: Goal & Habit Tracker)
  • Organizer apps: helps users stay organized by tracking assignments and tests, and sending reminders about important dates and deadlines. (MyHomework: Homework Tracker)

Contextual Interviews

My goal was to identify influences and methods of self-motivation college students use to improve mental and physical well-being.

I wrote an interview protocol that investigated 4 major aspects of my research objective:

  1. experience with mental and physical health at college
  2. interactions with their environment
  3. daily tasks and routine
  4. study habits

Each aspect had an overarching question, followed by several sub questions.

There were four participants in the initial user research process. Participants signed an informed consent form before the interview began. Each interview took around 45 minutes via Zoom call, which was recorded with consent. During the interviews, I took notes of key points. After, I watched the recordings to fill in any gaps.

Affinity Diagram & Insights

After compiling all the interview data, an affinity diagram was created to organize the findings. The major insights into students’ pain points were also outlined (right side).





User ​satisfaction​: high, as indicated by the verbal feedback received after each task, which was mostly positive. This suggests the goal of avoiding emotional distress in the user was achieved.

Learnability:​ was worse than expected, perhaps due to the length of some tasks. There were issues with adding and rearranging to-do items in the schedule which indicates a learnability issue. This task took some users much longer than anticipated. Some tasks also required repeated instructions to complete, which should not have been necessary. This detracted from our goal to make this product easy to navigate and understand.

Error rate​: was also high in the scheduling task. Some of this can be attributed to unfamiliarity with Figma’s website, but some were not. This suggests that certain parts of the app were not easy to navigate to complete tasks.

Emotional engagement​: users sometimes looked or sounded confused when completing the tasks, such as when they were getting used to using Figma’s prototype tool, and in certain parts of the session. This suggests the goal of an easy-to-use app could be improved.

Fit within existing practice​ (their daily lives): all users said they could still see themselves utilizing the app to get work done. Notably, a couple took interest in the virtual study-buddy feature, which would help them during this isolated time.

Effectiveness: was high, because all users were able to complete the tasks despite minor hiccups which will be improved upon.

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