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Meaning Making

By Tomomi Sakurai (Tanigawa)

  1. Behavioral design
  2. Community driven design
  3. Participatory design
  4. Experience design
  5. Social sector design
  6. Community building
  7. Equity
  8. Ethics
  9. Human
  10. Nonprofit
  11. Social impact
Meaning Making

Improving the volunteering experience at Metro Achievement Program

Purpose Statement How might we make the onboarding, training, and engagement experience better for tutors and as a result improve the experience for the students? Method Overview The study was completed using qualitative methods of design ethnography which center on exploring people, their context, and behaviors with the goal of producing insight for solutions rather than verifiable theory. The following design ethnographic methods were used during the interviews: Photo Elicitation: a dialogic technique that prompts conversation between researchers and participants. The goal of photo elicitation is not to substitute images for words, but to use pictures to stimulate vivid, concrete, meaningful words. (Moed et al. 179) Participatory Design: A method in which the people destined to use the system play a critical role in designing it (Schuler and Namioka 11, original emphasis). In addition, a survey was completed to check if the insights derived from the qualitative research aligned with satisfaction and engagement levels across the volunteer base. Throughout the stages of engagement, the participants demonstrated several patterns in how they determined the value of their experience. The five “modes of meaning” that seem to be connected to participants’ satisfaction and sense of fulfillment are Taking the initiative Resonating with Metro’s mission Teaming to better serve the students Social bonding with students and other volunteers Reflecting The extent to which the staff at Metro design concrete activities that foster these five modes of meaning, the more satisfied the volunteers will be with the experience. Reflection is especially important because it is the mental feedback loop that allows volunteers to be more intentional in their work with students.

Project Details

  • Class: Principles and Methods of User Research
  • Instructor: Kim Erwin
  • Project Partner: Metro Achievement Program