Keeping Students at The Forefront of Our Plans

BriannaWhat is it like to be an AU student today? This is a key question the RiSE Assessment Subcommittee grappled with in our efforts to better understand the student experience. The Subcommittee wanted to be sure that we understood what how services work from a student perspective. So, we tried to put ourselves in students’ shoes by using an approach based on the principles of “human centered design”.

How did we do this? The main thing we did was listen. The team held seven focus groups with students. In addition, we asked a group of students to journal for us each week about their experiences on campus, from the excitement of meeting new friends and experiences in the classroom, to the challenges of financing their education and living in a residence hall. There were clear patterns in what we heard, and themes that seemed to cluster around four distinct types of student experience.

We decided to share what we learned by describing four different types, or personas, of AU students. The personas illustrate the fact that different students have different goals, challenges and needs. Are these the only types of students at AU? No. Can a student be in more than one category? Absolutely. The purpose was not to be exhaustive but rather to provide tools that help us keep the experiences of AU students front and center, as we think about adapting to address the varying keys to their success.

The personas will guide us as we try to develop new models of student services. For each proposed model, we can test it against these personas. How would this model work for a financially focused student? For a first year student? The personas create a common shorthand that will help us to craft services tailored to the varied needs of AU’s diverse student population.

How well do these personas meet your view of  AU students? Do you fit into one of the personas? Do you know students who do? What persona is missing? Let us know what you think!

— Karen Froslid Jones, Assistant Provost, Institutional Research and Assessment
RiSE Assessment Subcommittee Chair