Project Primer: Data Analysis

Danielle Baillargeon, Data Analysis Team Lead

What happens to all the interviews and data that the Innovation Hub collects?  Over the past three years, over 450 students and staff have shared their experiences with our teams. We are honoured that so many were willing to entrust us with their stories and experiences, which helped us identify their needs, suggest and prototype services and supports, and contribute to substantive changes at U of T through over a dozen collaborative projects. The interviews and feedback we receive are the basis from which we advocate for change in all our collaborations, including the New College Dining Hall redesign, the Family Care Office projects, and the classroom redesign under the Transforming the Instructional Landscape Project. 

Our data gave us valuable insights for these individual projects, but we believe we can do more with it: many of the experiences that students share with us reveal themes that stretch across projects and that could help us improve the student experience beyond the individual studies for which they were collected. This is where the Data Analysis project comes in.

The Data Analysis team is working this summer to compile all this data—the interviews, the journals, the feedback cards—into one searchable database. With over 450 interviews, this is a mammoth task. We want to archive each interview with searchable codes and keywords. We started by developing a standardized coding system, a collection of keywords, that will help us identify themes, insights, and student needs.  This coding system captures the priorities of the university, students, and staff, allowing us to organize and refine the data for use in new projects.

At the end of the summer, we will have a repository of data, covering diverse subjects and themes, about the student experience at U of T. These student stories informed our previous work, illustrating the challenges faced by students in the spaces they occupy, in accessing services on campus, and in their need for support both academically and personally.  With this repository of interviews, we will be able to ask a new series of questions: questions about accessibility; barriers faced by students, both visible and invisible; students’ relationship to the university; skills students develop in the classroom; and students’ feelings about the future.  The Data Analysis team is excited to continue engaging with the stories and experiences students have shared, and continue to share, with us. We want to make sure that  these stories will resonate far beyond individual projects by helping us build a repository that presents a holistic view of the U of T student experience.

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