Reflections on my progress
To start with I found intercept interviews (on my part) awkward, I am fairly practised at engaging people in conversation but this is certainly at least a two-person job. With Ning to ensure that I kept track of the questions to ask, and Julie taking notes were able to elicit some insightful data from our research subjects.
The main concerns I heard have two prongs, one being the sheer scale of students who don’t even know that the Health and Well-being centre exists, let alone it being a free service they are entitled to as an AUT student. There seems to be a consensus from those who have used it that there are infrastructure issues.
Of those that had no awareness, they had no recollection of ever learning about the medical services at AUT, and had little to no memory of what they might have been told at Orientation. This isn’t to say that they were not told about it, just that they didn’t recall hearing about it.
Running an informal show of hands during the classes I teach at AUT I discovered that from 66 students, only 3 had heard of the Health and Well-being Centre, and of those three, only one was aware it was free, I found this concerning, and on reflection that perhaps I had failed them a little, by not placing more importance on ensuring that the students were aware of the services that they are entitled too.
One of the surprising things I have learned about myself during this process is that at some point in the last 40 years I have morphed from an introvert with terrible social skills to a woman who has been told repeatedly how easily I seem to make friends, and how I don’t seem to become anxious when talking with new people, it seems that my fake it till you make it approach has paid off.
A facet that I had to work on for research interviews was phrasing questions that elicited more than a binary answer. It’s a skill that takes practice, and I am finding myself employing this tactic in many other situations. Working as part of a group has been enlightening and at times challenging, but I feel we are starting to gel as a team, and are starting to form some concepts that have the feeling of something that can work.
I still feel we need to seek out several more research subjects, so far our hunch seems to align with the data we have gathered, but I still feel our pool of participants is a bit shallow. In the interest of testing fast and failing fast, I believe that with a larger sum of data to draw out conclusions from we will have a better understanding of if our concept ideas will actually benefit AUT students.
Something I didn’t consider at the start of this challenge was what the service might actually want, my first thought was to go straight to social media, with a video campaign across all platforms, but after our meeting with stakeholders I realised that this approach wasn’t going to work, this was not what the service wants. And after reviewing the data we have gathered already, it doesn’t appear as if this is the best way to reach our students.
Empathetic Product Design is at the forefront of mind while pondering ideas that would work best in this situation, putting the AUT student population as a whole above my perceptions of the issue. Since I am older than the average undergrad with a family GP and health insurance, seeking these services were not a priority for myself. This research process has helped me grasp better the reasons why they aren’t using this service from the student body. One of the things I will be keeping in mind is the clinics need to be both visible and known to all students, but also still in a private location.
I have learned that I do have an empathic response to Students need to look after their mental health, and have learned much about issues facing our international students. This design process has aided me to step outside the circle of my own lens and start to perceive the issue from the position of others, the diverse AUT student body.