Student Faces Case Study

The Problem

At the start of each school year or semester, teachers are often faced with the challenge of identifying and remembering hundreds of new students names and faces.

Product Solution

By using spaced repetition and a Leitner system, common in language learning, teachers are able to learn student's names and faces in the least amount of time. Having a scheduled review session before classes helps teachers brush up on the specific students they are having trouble remembering.

Users & Audience

The target users of Student Faces are teachers, primarily those teaching middle school through university, as those are typically the teachers with more than a single class worth of students names to remember.

Their goal is to cut down on the time it takes them to remember all their new students each semester/year. They are often busy, so being able to learn in small gaps of free time (for example, between class periods) is important to them.

Design Process

In order to identify the best and quickest way to enable teachers to learn student faces and names, I began by researching various methods for learning and memorization. Eventually I landed on Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS), commonly used for language learning. With some modifications and adaptations of a specific SRS, the Leitner system, I was able to create a tool that would allow teachers to learn student's names in the least amount of time.

Basic user flow to determine the various use cases and ways teachers can use the app to help learn student faces.

On first load of a new class, users will be presented with an initial student review which will guide them through their new students, allowing them to easily match names to faces. After the initial review, users will be able to manually review at their own leisure or turn on automatic scheduled reviews based on their class schedule.

Variation on a three box Leitner system (an implementation of spaced repetition) to determine which students are shown to teachers.

Students are sorted into ‘difficult’ or ‘learning’ depending on whether the teacher remembered them correctly during the initial review. Students are moved up a category when correct and down when incorrect. This allows teachers to focus on learning the student names they have difficulty with, rather than just mass reviewing an entire class at once, leading to less time spent to achieve the end result of knowing all student names.

Initial wirefranes. Left to right - Class List, Initial Class Overview, Class Overview, Name Review, Photo Review, Initial Review, Review Complete.

Quick initial wireframes were used to figure out the basic layouts for the main pages. Inspiration was taken from various quiz and trivia apps and adapted to work with names and faces.

Interface Design

The objective of the final interface design was to keep it simple with the focus on enabling users to make quick and lasting connections between student's faces and names. This was accomplished with flat colors, large text (especially for names) and large photos with the least amount of distraction.

Users can quickly access their classes from the main screen, with the option to sort by recommended (most in need of practice) or alphabetical.

The class overview page provides users with the option to start a manual review as well as a quick overview of four students whose names they are having trouble with.

On first load of a class, users will be taken through a student review, revealing photos paired with correct names. Users are also able to add notes to help remember students.

On future reviews, users will be presented with student photos and asked to select the correct name that goes with it.

Selecting the correct name will highlight that and allow the user to move on to the next student. That student will also move up one category in the Lietner system.

An incorrect selection will highlight the correct name and the student will 'tell' the user who they actually are.

Users will also be asked to select the correct photo when presented with a name. Having both question types helps with overall name to face association.

At the end of a review, users will recieve a letter score and overview of how many students they correctly remembered.


I'm very pleased with the end product, especially from a learning research point of view. With more time into this project, I'd have loved to made the design a bit less simple, while keeping it minimal. At the moment it is a bit basic, and some better features (integration of the notes, full student list, etc) would help take it further.