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Parker Matthews

1. Introduction ... 3

2. Methods .. 3

3. Results/Discussion .. 3

4. Conclusion/Recommendation 7

This white paper describes the findings from a usability test of the website www.GoArmyEd.com, the
US Armys website for its Soldiers to request Tuition Assistance (TA) funds to help pay for their
continuing education. The Soldiers that use this website are not required to have any special training,
for this test the user was assumed to be familiar with basic website maneuvering and form usage with
no more than a high school education or equivalent. I performed this test as a former user of TA, I
remembered the experience being extremely frustrating and the website poorly designed. I saw this as
an opportunity to evaluate the site from a usability standpoint and to see if any improvements had
been made. I performed this test by requesting TA for a summer course at the University of Idaho.
Eight specific tasks required to request Tuition Assistance were performed during this test:

Create a GoArmyEd Account

Take the Soldier Quick Start Training PowerPoint series
Fill out the Course Planner
Upload Degree Plan / Student Agreement Documentation
Acknowledge and Authenticate Statement of Understanding Document
Obtain and Upload Verification of Cost from U of I to GoArmyEd
Enroll in Course through GoArmyEd
Print TA Request Form

Each task was evaluated on a Likert Scale of usability with 4 qualitative options for each criteria
statement. Each of the above tasks was evaluated by the following criteria statements:
1. The time it took to complete this task was reasonable.
2. I was able to complete this task without help from the help section or another person.
3. I was able to complete this task without leaving the site
And each criteria statement evaluated as Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. These
options were assigned a point value from 2 to -2 respectively. Each task then summed its three scores
to receive an overall point value. A negative value would indicate that the task was overall difficult or
unpleasant to complete, while a positive score would indicate the task was reasonable.
This test was performed on a PC desktop computer running Microsoft Windows 8 from my home over
the course of several hours. While this computer had access to both sound and a government ID card
reader, neither were required for this test.
1. The first task evaluated was creation of a GoArmyEd account. Since this system is designed for current
Soldiers it requests some personal information to link the account to the Soldier in the Armys system.

To finish account creation the GoArmyEd site requires a username and password system, where the
password must adhere to the very strict DISA password standards. The time it took to create a
password with no personally identifiable information or spaces that contained 2 uppercase letters, 2
lowercase letter, 2 numbers, 2 special characters, and was 15-25 characters in length was unreasonable,
and I had to consult the password help section to see the password standard required. While I was able
to complete this task without leaving GoArmyEd, it still received an overall -2 score.
2. The second task, Take the Soldier Quick Start Training PowerPoint Series, was successfully completed
without consulting any help documents or leaving the site, and while it was time consuming to go
through the various PowerPoints the information contained helped save time for the rest of the
process. This task overall received a +5 score.

3. Completing the Course Planner required entry of all courses required for the degree that I plan on
requesting Tuition Assistance for either now or in the future. This is a very time consuming process and
I frequently had to leave the site to look up the required information off of the University of Idahos
College of Engineering resources. I also had to input the Universitys information to include school

address and the Student Financial Aid Departments point of contact information. This task received an
overall score of -6.

4. The GoArmyEd site requires an official degree plan document to reference the courses manually input
in the previous step. I had to leave the site to find this document and I had to reference the help section
to find what would satisfy the degree plan requirement, however this did not take much time to
accomplish. This task overall received a -4 score.
5. The Tuition Assistance process requires a signed Statement of Understanding from both the Soldier
requesting the TA and the Soldiers commander, confirming that the Soldier is in good standing with
the unit. This process formerly required the Soldier to print off the paper document, sign and date, have
the commander sign and date, scan, and upload back to GoArmyEd. Fortunately, this an all be
completed by signing electronically and sending an e-version to be signed electronically to the
commander via e-mail. The new process is very efficient and requires almost no effort, it received a +6
score overall.
6. The next step required of the Soldier is to obtain a verification of cost document from the University
and upload that document to GoArmyEd. The sites help section has to be consulted to find what
information is required and what an acceptable document is, then the Soldier has to leave the site to
obtain this information either in person or through an online student account before uploading back to
GoArmyEd. This process scores negative in all 3 categories and receives and overall -6.

7. Next the Soldier must enroll in the course for the semester, some of the necessary information has
already been provided in previous steps but more is needed now as well. Each course has to be entered
manually and individually, filling out the course start and end dates, semester hour cost, and uploading
any pertinent verification of cost or enrollment documents. While I did not have to consult the help
feature for this part, I did not have all of the necessary information at this point and had to leave the site
to look it up. This was again a time consuming process that ended in a task score of -5.

8. The last step of the TA process (assuming everything was approved after it was submitted) is to print
out the TA request form, sign it, and take it to the schools student account center for the funds to be
transferred. Clicking the button to create the pdf and print it out is one of the easiest parts of this entire
process and earns a +6.
Overall, the website design is not ideal. The color scheme is simple and somewhat boring, and the
process of requesting TA is not clearly outlined or guided like some other programs are. However, there
are ample instruction throughout and quick links to access help on nearly every topic. GoArmyEd uses
the intro PowerPoint (task 2) as a solution to the poorly guided problem, however a short PowerPoint
series is not enough to ease the entire process. The final point total for all 8 Tasks is -6 which indicates
that there is plenty of room for improvement. Some of my recommendations are:
1. When creating an account, help guide the user through the password creation process and put
the requirements on the same page.
2. At the beginning of the TA request, list all information that the Soldier will need to complete
the process. If I only had to leave the site one time to fetch the information about my degree
plan, course schedules, billing statement then much more time would have been saved.
3. Eliminate redundancy. Manually entering information for each class individually multiple times
is a waste of time, as well as submitting the same uploaded document for each one.
From my previous experience with GoArmyEd I can see that there have been improvements. Hopefully
this trend continues and Soldiers can get the Tuition Assistance they both were promised and rightfully