By Rachel Davis, Design Research Team Lead (Trademark Licensing)
Do UofT students feel a sense of pride, and if so, how do they express it? That is the focus of investigation for the 2018-2019 Trademark Licensing project team. UofT’s Trademark Licensing office is partnering with the Innovation Hub to explore how student narratives regarding institutional pride can lead to positive engagement with University of Toronto brands.
Before we began collecting data, we did some exercises to get our initial thoughts about the problem and solution on paper. Making our assumptions explicit was a crucial step for us, since we fall into the same demographics as the students we planned to research. We wanted to ensure we to mitigate the risk of subconsciously relying on our own experiences to answer this question.
Next, we brainstormed evocative questions for our interview guide to help us ask staff and students about their UofT story. We found that in the actual interviews, the conversation did not precisely follow the guide as our flexible approach allowed the interviewee to direct the conversation, and led us to moments in their life they wished to speak about in depth.
Last weekend, we attended two full-day training sessions on Design Thinking and Integrative Thinking. Here, the team worked to compile our data. Using de-identified transcripts, we read through student stories where personal struggles, such as access to mental health resources, were noted. One key difference between the stories was the status of the interviewee, as an international or domestic student. We found that these stories gave us insight into the struggles faced by students who are new to Toronto.
Another technique the team found effective to communicate and examine our ideas was “analogy”. As we drew a preliminary user experience cycle, we worked together to empathize with a student who felt he had to work harder than his peers for desirable grades. As a comparison, we thought about how it might feel to go to the gym and see athletes with incredible strength, but at the same time, recognize not being able to dedicate the time necessary to acquire and maintain such a physique. We then worked towards an “integrative” resolution between the contrasting ideologies, regarding whose responsibility it is to ensure students have access to relevant resources. This involved us comparing parenting styles. The analogy generated a particularly controversial discussion about the many ways a parent might teach a child how to swim.
These data analysis techniques gave us some thought-provoking entry points into the data. In the coming weeks, the team will take a closer look at the themes and tensions we identified and bring further creativity to the report in preparation for our presentation to stakeholders. These student stories will be treated with the care and confidentiality they deserve as we search for insights. This week, we will spend several hours conducting observations at the campus bookstore, a place we feel is a touch-point for student interactions, with emblems of the UofT brand.
Recognizing that Design Thinking is an iterative process, the team will continue to collect some final data and fill in any gaps identified in our preliminary analysis.