Division of Student Life: Strategic Planning

We worked with the Division of Student Life to understand students’ help-seeking experiences, from recognizing a need for support to accessing and experiencing support services. The themes and insights developed contributed to the Division’s Strategic Planning Process to support incorporating student voices into program design. 

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Our Findings

Our work with the Division of Student Life began in Summer 2019.

How do students understand and navigate the university's programs and services? - Fall-Winter 2019-20

Using design-centered activities and empathy-based interviews, Innovation Hub members learned how students find information on and access campus resources, how they feel about these resources, and what they currently know about the Division of Student Life. The data revealed three key themes about student help-seeking, which are tied together by one central idea. For help to be useful, it must be found. While U of T provides resources to support students, many of which are high-quality, whether (and how) students learn about and interact with these resources is equally important. Themes included:

  1. Information (Im)Balance
  2. People Helping People
  3. Patchwork Service Affects Access

Access the report to learn more about these themes, along with personas, design principles, and next steps that can directly support students in navigating university programs and services.

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How do students seek support for their challenges and navigate the university's services? - Summer 2019

Help-seeking is a multi-step process: from making a decision to seek (or not seek) help, to navigating available resources, to actually using services and the results of using these services. At each step, the student experience is influenced by both internal factors and the environment. . The data, collected from previous empathy-based interviews and design research events since 2016, illuminates how students make decisions on whether to access services, the barriers they experience, and what they think and feel at every step in the process. The insights suggest that the decision to access help is multi-factorial and contains many potential barriers; thus, this report suggests areas to investigate as we collect new student stories. 

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