There is nothing more exciting than talking with students! Almost as exciting, was spending a morning speaking with colleagues, students, and other stakeholders about students! As someone who professionally identifies as ‘student-centred’, it was a thrill to focus in on a student (persona) during our Share back sessions. Personas are based on and represent real people, however all identifying information such as their real name and program of study are sanitized to protect their identity.
Based on our interview with Transfer Student “Tasha”, the following needs-question was formulated: How might we help transfer student Tasha meet her need of feeling cared about, and that she matters when it comes to participating at U of T, inside and outside the classroom? No small ask!
From a fury of post-it notes, we found the following themes at varying levels of engagement:
- At the student level – to build students’ capacity to embrace that building community and establishing connectedness at UofT is (hard) work and then to develop the skills to make it happen (connected to programming level with respect to where students build this capacity – as one site)
- At the staff level –building the capacity of staff as agents of creating a welcoming and inclusive culture – a culture of care, if you will. Important notes included: sharing ourselves/being vulnerable as staff and learning about the story of the student.
- At the classroom level – with so many students citing classrooms as sites for feeling connection or disconnection, it was natural to see this come up in the ideation phase. Ideas included beginning-of-class SL activity and collaborating with professors at various levels.
- At the programming level – notes around stronger programs that connect students through peer models and facilitate connectedness (activities, workshops, etc.). Feedback around transfer student support was strong as well.
We know that ideas can be bound by a plethora of barriers AND we also know that all great things involve breaking through significant barriers. Innovation Hub, let us be boundless and let’s do this!!!