1.3. Cultural Probes

The goal of our cultural probe was to find out more about what students think about mathematics as a subject at school, and which knowledge delivery methods they like best while learning mathematics.

Our cultural probe consists of:

  • Instructions and two pieces of candy as a thanks to the participant
  • A brouchure that contains three questions and a set of stickers. We also provided a pencil to write with.
  • A page with a question and stickers to answer with x2



3 speechbaloons with questions, a pencil and a set of stickers

Our set of 3 pictures, a pencil and stickers.

To find out what the students think and feel, we developed a set of questions delivered as a brouchure.The children are supposed to answer by using the stickers (red means no, green means yes, yellow is in- between), and then elaborate by writing in the speech baloon. We provided a small pencil to write with, and a set of stickers, 4 for each colour.



Picture of a brouchure- like cultural probe

This is how we delivered the questions as a brouchure. (click on the picture to see the gif)


A picture of a sheet of paper with a question and stickers.

(We did of course not deliver it creased)

The second part our our probe consists of two pages, each asking a question, and a set of stickers to answer with.

With this we wanted to find out if the students prefer using digital tools (such as pc and the calculator represended on the first and third sticker) or traditional methods such as blackboard/teacher- lecture and learning from the book.

The students are supposed to rate how much they like the teaching methods illustrated on the stickers, by sticking the representative quantity of stickers on the sheet of paper. There is a total of 3 stickers for each of the 4 knowledge delivery methods we decided to ask about. 3 stickers is a positive answer, 2 stickers is a neutral answer, while 1 sticker is a negative answer.


The last part of our probe is a mind map that is supposed to be finished by the student. We have provided small sticky notes in 3 different colours. Each colour of the sticky note corresponds with the colour of the bubble it’s supposed to be used for. On the sticky notes, different phrases were written. The students may use them to finish the mind map, but they could also write down their own phrases


The purpose of this piece is to inspire us, and find out about the user’s needs. What do they like? What do they find frustrating? How do they perceive math as a subject? We provided the sticky notes with different phrases to make sure that the student won’t leave this part of the probe unfinished due to lack of ideas.

We’ve handed out the probes to kids we know, in the age group 7-9 years. After a few days, we have contacted the parents to collect them.

Not everyone is negative towards math 🙂

The probes were supposed to inspire us and give us additional information about student’s attitude towards mathematics- and it did. Surprisingly, we didn’t get many all- negative answers, and the probes showed that some students actually feel confident in the subject and like to work with it. We found out that the feeling of mastery of the subject is related to how much the student likes it.



The answers we got from the brouchure



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