Peer Mentoring Programme - UX Case Study
International students often have a difficult time integrating within social circles in their first year of University and feel as if they are unprepared for everyday tasks (McMahon, 2011). Academic mentoring and networking events exist in many institutions, however they do not seem to be as effective as one-to-one mentoring. Our project proposed a Peer Mentoring Programme which seeks to offer a full range of services to students, from first years to recent graduates and alumni.
We started with identifying issues in Universities
Problems faced by international students aka User Needs
International Students have a hard time making friends with home students and connect in a meaningful way
Handling finances, such as housing, tuition fees and the cost of living can be challenging
Often students coming to the UK to study face difficulties understanding the healthcare system and other such systems
Many international students do not know what work opportunities they will have once they finish studying
We started with the 3 main functions and proposed a scheme for the Information Architecture. Each function seeks to help students in different areas of their University life
Community and General Info – oriented towards general information students needs when beginning their academic journey
Matching and Mentoring – geared towards lifestyle, academic and career improvement with individual mentors specialised in their particular category
Events hub – offering online and offline events not only for mentees or mentors, but students in general
We established the main functions we would like to present
Community and General Info
Matching and Mentoring
Information Architecture and Lo-Fi prototype
We developed a basic structure for the information architecture and started working on lo-fi prototypes for how the app would work and look
Stakeholders, Users and Research
We established the stakeholders involved in our project, alongside the potential users and methods of researching these groups of people
Alumni of the University
We moved on to developing a mid fidelity to high fidelity prototype of the app
Research & Testing
Observation of use
Click test with prototype
Testing and Observing
We tested some of the finalised pages with students to gather feedback. At the time we also held interviews to see how people feel about the functions and their role.
Questions, Issues and Considerations
After we finalised the prototype, we were still left with many questions. There were issues we encountered when designing and researching, and things that we could have perhaps done differently.
How can the matching function be improved?
How can we be more sensible to cultural differences?
How do we better assess the mentor's capabilities?
How do we ensure the privacy of our users within the University context?
These questions are still standing and need answering in the future. The privacy issue could be fixed by allowing students to log-in through Institutional login only. The assessment of mentors and the accessibility and cultural issues should be discussed with specialists in social sciences who could recommend appropriate guidelines.
The intention is to provide international students with an appropriate hub to evolve and make meaningful connections. We are still considering these issues and hope to employ all the things we have learnt in future projects.