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

Socialising

International Students have a hard time making friends with home students and connect in a meaningful way

Financial

Handling finances, such as housing, tuition fees and the cost of living can be challenging 

Lifestyle

Often students coming to the UK to study face difficulties understanding the healthcare system and other such systems

Career

Many international students do not know what work opportunities they will have once they finish studying

Main Functions

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

  1. Community and General Info – oriented towards general information students needs when beginning their academic journey

  2. Matching and Mentoring – geared towards lifestyle, academic and career improvement with individual mentors specialised in their particular category

  3. 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

Events Hub

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

Users

  • University Students

  • Alumni of the University 

Initial Screen

We moved on to developing a mid fidelity to high fidelity prototype of the app

Stakeholders

  • Students

  • Teachers

  • The University

Mentors Page

Research & Testing

  • Interviews

  • Observation of use

  • Click test with prototype

Matching Function
Testing the App

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.

Testing the App
Matching Survey
Mentor Compatibility when matching
Mentor Compatibility Analysis
Live Chat with Mentor

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.