This past weekend I conducted a design research facilitation to test previous and updated designs of the student journey experience. In addition, I wanted to collect student insight on first year experiences being outside of high school and into their post secondary journey.
Below is a brief overview of my research facilitation plan and my findings after the one hour session.
— Information Cards / Post-It Colour Assignments
In reference to the Universal Methods of Design text, I utilized a handful of methods to structure a design research facilitation with a group of six (three female, three male) first year University of Waterloo students.
— Graffiti Wall
— KJ Technique
— Value Opportunity Analysis
— A/B Testing
I began with a combination of both the Graffiti Wall and KJ Technique — I wanted to collect general perceptions and attitudes on both positive and negative experiences with how each students high school had prepared them for post secondary.
- I prompted the students with a general statement to comment on how their high schools handled preparing them for life after high school (keeping open ended on perspectives of college, university, workforce, etc.)
- In order to prevent groupthink, I utilized steps from the KJ technique, asking students to individually and silently contribute their opinions on post it notes to the graffiti wall without discussion. Framing it this way maintains a self reporting approach and does not influence irrational changes to personal thoughts.
After all students made their contributions, we began to form a discussion among the commonalities and differences in opinions.
The proposal wall was a surveying method I used that allowed students to communicate their ideal visions of what they would have wanted and/or would have improved on from their high school-to-post experience.
Students were able to communicate their ideal structures, among the ideas were suggestions that ranged from additional workshops, faculty specific fairs, in-class alumni visitations and more.
The last brainstorm directed students to list specific resources they used during their high school to post secondary transition period. The results of these listed resources presented an opportunity to further conduct a value opportunity analysis of the existing resources students had used in the past (competitor review to be conducted).
I then presented students with a simple question of “What resource ultimately enforced your decision to choose the University of Waterloo as the beginning of your post-secondary journey?”
The responses were unanimous in two categories of feeling inspired from a previous University of Waterloo student’s journey and the university’s prestigious co-operative education program.
Finalizing the facilitation session, I ended with individually conducting a modified A/B Testing session with each student. Testing my original student journey concept from the previous semester and then presenting the new proposal.
The testing provided general feedback on both experiences and among the comments were —
Your Student Journey (Design 1)
— “Felt fun with the emojis and colours were really engaging”
— “I enjoyed reading the articles and there was some interesting content”
— “Interesting reading the student opinions and felt relatable”
— “Would like more information for international students and out of province students”
— “Felt a little repetitive going back and forth between each emotion”
Student Journey (Design 2)
— “Seems like a condensed version of LinkedIn”
— “Felt really interested in wanting to read more about these engineers”
— “The school logos look a little awkward”
— “Would be interesting to see more personal experiences maybe?”
Students felt both web experiences were very different from each other, design 1 presenting value in being an easy to use information resource and design 2 having potential to further develop into a convenient resource to reference and gain inspiration from industry professionals.
Conducting the facilitation session was a great opportunity for me to practice and familiarize myself with new design research methods. I gained a lot of insight hearing what these students had to say about their high school to post secondary transition and I can now have these particular student attitudes and behaviours to keep in mind while going forward with the design process.
Being able to test and compare my designs hands on through A/B testing allowed me to understand how to further iterate on my concept. As students touched on particular features within my prototype, I began to understand how to prioritize certain functions over others, what was relevant and useful and what felt lacking.
Overall, the session gave me great exposure in effectively communicating with students as my end users, as well as practice in structuring a design research session and the importance of preparation and scheduling when it comes to facilitation. Thanks so much to these awesome University of Waterloo students for taking the time to participate!
Going forward — presenting findings with the team and further improvement on the new student journey web experience proposal.
Originally I intended to complete a card sorting activity with specific website features so next steps will be towards the actual web experience flow.