A Critique on Grades

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Artwork #3: Intervene

For this project I wanted to design an experience that would make the people participating break their typical behavior. Through schooling we are taught in a way to pass test, not in a way that teaches us things for long term memory. I wanted to create a test that would incentivize the users to abandon the exam for some other behavior, so I created an image, like a “wheres waldo” where the test takers had to memorize things in the image then answer questions about it. (see images and quiz below).

Because creating the image would take quite a while, the first iteration of this project for me was playtesting the idea with other people. I explained the concept of my project and wanted their input for if they thought it would actually work. From the few people I described it to, they agreed that it was an interesting idea however many people expressed concern that people would be unlikely to take the action I expected. I agreed and considered what I could do to make this idea more obvious but still subtle enough that it would still be the playtesters on choice to take action. I decided that I would test this on my roommates and depict our house in the image so they were already familiar with it. I showed a candy bag in the kitchen in the image and the test takers in the living room.

I noted to the players before the start of the “exam” that only the person with the best score would get a piece of candy. Despite the playtesters noticing that the bag of candy was in the kitchen, after they had finished the ‘exam’ they explained that the thought of leaving the “testing room” would never have crossed their mind, nor do they think there was anything I could have done to change their behavior.
One funny note, one of the testers was so conditioned by exams that they put their name at the top of the page despite me not adding that as a prompt on the exam page.  (there were only two of them and they were writing in different colors)

Ultimately, I think most people would show the same behavior as my roommates did if placed in the same position. However, despite this intervention failing, in some ways I think that it actually is more successful because it failed, showing the testers how schools have conditioned them in such a way.

This artwork was somewhat inspired by the Barbie/G.I. Joe swap, in that some experiences are not always as you expect them to be from their surface image. Like the Barbie/G.I. Joe swap, I wanted to create an interaction with the users that would make them reconsider their behavior with familiar items/experiences, and hopefully make them see these experiences differently in the future.

Image given to testers:

the testers studying the image:

the testers taking the test:

Quiz questions:

  1. who is in charge of the “bath” chore?
  2. who is currently #4 on the leaderboard?
  3. how many carrots are in the image?
  4. what day of the week was the 1st of the month?
  5. What is the current time in 24 hour time?
  6. Where is the bed located in Anna’s Room? Give your answer in cardinal directions.