Improving the guidance on the course description pages

User researchers working on Apply for teacher training (Apply) conducted a diary study with potential teacher training candidates. They asked participants to share their views on the course descriptions on Find postgraduate teacher training (Find).

Participants said that:

  • course information is often very similar, making it hard to know which course is right for them
  • they scan the page for essential information such as how and where they will be spending their time, and what they will “get” from the course
  • ‘About this course’ can often be long-winded and can sometimes be poor quality

Reviewing course content on Find

Before starting this work, we conducted a quality assessment of courses on Find. This involved looking at around 50 courses and documenting our observations on style, quality and content. We also included some live examples to understand the way in which the ‘About this course’ section is being used by providers.

The content can vary in quality and readability. Some content may:

  • be incorrectly formatted
  • have sentences and paragraphs that are too long
  • not be written in plain English
  • contain generic information rather than specific course information

Hypothesis

Using our quality assessment and the diary study, we believe that improving the guidance for providers in the service may lead to better quality course content.

What we changed

We split the course information page into three separate pages. We now show a page for:

  • course summary
  • how school placements work
  • interview process

We updated the guidance on each page to encourage providers to write more effective descriptions.

We also moved the ‘How school placements work’ field above the interview field in the course descriptions list.

We made these changes so that:

  • the pages are shorter making it easier to add and edit content
  • the ‘change’ link takes the user to the content they need to edit on one page, rather than an anchor link
  • the fields appear in the same order as they do on Find

Course summary

We changed the name of ‘About this course’ to ‘Course summary’. Each course page on Find is about the course, whereas this section is designed to be a summary of the course’s unique features.

Using our findings from user research, we updated the guidance above the text field to make it more aligned to what candidates are looking for.

We also added a link to an updated ‘How to use this service’ page that links to two new pages - ‘Course summary examples’ and ‘Writing descriptions for Publish teacher training courses’.

How school placements work

The guidance in the ‘How school placements work’ section was relevant, but we found a way to shorten the content and reduce the number of bullet points from 8 to 6.

Interview process

We shortened the content and removed one of the bullet points.

Future considerations

To make course pages on Find easier to read, we want to look at ways to break the sections down further. More prescribed sections should help make the content more scannable and candidates can decide if the course is right for them more quickly.

We looked at reducing the word count for the ‘Course summary’ section, but providers received this idea negatively in our initial user research.

We wanted to look at the Find page holistically to see if restructuring the content improves the candidate experience. However, the need to release the new guidance in time for rollover has meant we’ve not yet been able to do this. We plan to look at restructuring the content in the future.

We also want to investigate if a rich text editor will help providers create and edit their content.

Course summary#

Screenshot of Course summary

How school placements work#

Screenshot of How school placements work

Interview process#

Screenshot of Interview process