This blog post is part of Researchers Reflect, a series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher’s experience, stories, and learning moments throughout the course of their research.
Written by Shankeri Vijayakumar, UTQAP Research Coordinator
The relationship between researchers and participants is a unique one. Think about it, it’s an opportunity to hear stories and gain insight through an exchange of personal answers to deep questions. There is quite no other interaction like it and it’s part of what makes qualitative research such a powerful tool in design thinking. At the Innovation Hub, these in-depth qualitative research methods we follow have allowed me to connect with a diverse number of students united over a passion to enhance campus life at UofT.
This is a re-post from Redefining Traditional, a community aiming to equip student parents with the tools to navigate their various roles, build a community of support and belonging, as well as providing a space for productive dialogue amongst policy-makers to help reimagine higher education. If you’re interested in contributing to our online community, we encourage you to share your story as a student parent by filling out this form.
Written by J. Sparks – Redefining Traditional Team Member
“How do you do it?” As a postsecondary student parent, other parents have asked me this question. When you are a parent, the idea of taking on more responsibility by going back to school can feel discouraging. “How can I do it? Can I be academically successful and take care of my family?” I had asked myself these questions and deliberated before enrolling in graduate studies as a student parent.
Written by Robin Martin, Serena Tran & Yuwei Jiang, Design Research Assistants for the Celebrating International Students Project
Illustrations by Nikhil Pawar & Marielle Dilla – Digital Storytellers
The international student experience at the University of Toronto (U of T) is anything but homogenous. The Celebrating International Students project began during the 2019-2020 Design Thinking Experience Program (DTEP), and quickly took off after recognizing just how complex, and at times similar, the challenges of being an international student truly is. Over the last year and a half our research teams have delved into our archive of more than 600 interviews to get a broadened sense of the international student experience from before and during pandemic. We were also grateful to have interviewed several U of T staff in October to round out the data even further.
In this blog post, we will be sharing the main insights we have uncovered after interviewing and carefully analyzing our existing data, as well as our team members’ personal reflections from this project. We also share Building Bravery Design Principles to empower one another in celebrating international students at U of T, and a link to our report.
Illustrated By Vlada Gorchkova, Digital Storyteller
Part of what makes us human is the need for forming connections that make us feel truly heard and understood. There is a sense of belonging that comes with feeling supported that allows us to deeply understand ourselves, one another and discover what we find meaningful in our lives. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of active listeners. Through the art of active listening, a simple conversation can inspire change, strengthen relationships, and lead to innovation.
Active listening is fundamentally the ability to attentively understand the meaning behind the words of the speaker without the intrusion of your own thoughts, opinions, and judgment on the matter. Unlike the simple act of listening to words, active listening involves understanding why the person may be feeling a certain way, where they are coming from, and the message you are receiving. (1)
This blog post is part of Researchers Reflect, a new series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher’s experience, stories, and learning moments throughout the course of their research.
Written by Sanskriti Maheshwari, Senior Research Assistantfor Transforming the Instructional Landscape
When the University moved its operations online during Summer 2020, I took a chance and applied for a work-study position with the Innovation Hub. When my application was accepted, I was extremely excited. Like many students, I was trying to stay connected to life at the university, and my position with the Stories from a Distance Team gave me just that opportunity.
Written By Sofia Callaghan, Izzy Friesen, Serena Singh – Design Research Assistants for the Trans and Nonbinary Student Experiences Project
Trans Awareness Week (November 13th-19th), and Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th) is approaching, and so we’d like to share some research that the Innovation Hub is working on with the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office (SGDO).
Students are often queried by the University for their name and gender, which they can change using the change of name and gender request form; we wanted to learn more about the experiences of trans, nonbinary and/or otherwise gender nonconforming students navigating this form and other gender queries made by the University.
We are two months into the fall semester. Classes have picked up, we are in the heart of midterm season and students are establishing a routine across their academic, work and social lives. Yet similar to last year, this school year is not quite like the rest. After spending the past year and a half at Zoom University,UofT students are returning to campus with mixed emotions from excitement, frustration, joy, anxiousness, more and everything in between.
Fragments of normalcy can be seen walking through St. George Street, while waiting in line at the bookstore, or finding a seat at the library. But despite this‘normalcy’,we cannot denythe gapsthat endured in pre-pandemic student life as much as the onesemerging post-pandemically. A recent poll conducted by KPMG surveyed more than a thousand Canadian postsecondary students and discovered that 78 percent of students agree the pandemic has “fundamentally changed” their expectations of their higher education experience.
This blog post is the first of Researchers Reflect, a new series where we embark on the journey of a design researcher at the Innovation Hub. Each post will spotlight a different design researcher sharing their stories, experience and learning moments throughout the course of their research.
As we enter a brand-new term, the Innovation Hub is excited to welcome our Fall/Winter 2021-22 Team! Each year our team is expanding along with our growing number of partnerships and are pleased to continue designing with and for students at the University of Toronto. In support of our expansion, we are grateful to be transitioning to a new workspace on campus where we plan to follow a hybrid work model to provide flexibility & space for innovation.
What does it mean to be creative? At first thought, you may think of artists, designers, musicians as creatives, and indeed they are. However, being creative is more abstract than we imagined it to be. An entire field of creative studies exists that has dated back to the 1930s, simply dedicated to understanding the concept of creativity 1.