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  5. Postcard Confessions: Deepening Understanding of Students via their Hopes and Dreams

Postcard Confessions: Deepening Understanding of Students via their Hopes and Dreams

Project leader(s): 
James Warren and Georgy Holden
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

We think that we know our students, but do we fully understand their hopes the reality of their daily lives?

The welcome pack for the U101 entry level design module includes postcards that invite students to tell 'Lola' (the fictional embodiment of the module) their hopes and dreams for the coming year. The instructions asked for three things the students wanted to achieve and since a rewrite from 2020J, three things the students wanted to learn. Since 2010, students have created a couple of thousand ‘postcards’ that were received at a central P.O. Box staffed by the module team. The richness of the postcards which includes text and drawings (see photo), offers potential for novel insights into the intentions of OU students in the earliest stages of engagement and the way homelife and work aspirations intertwine. This study proposes to carry out a rigorous analysis of this archive which has so far not been utilised. This project has been cleared by HREC and the SRPP.

The aim of this project is to carry out a textual and visual analysis of the cards to develop a deep and holistic understanding of the hopes and aspirations that students bring to their engagement with the Open University. The identification of patterns will be used to create design student personas which reflect the lived experience of students that will be used to inform curriculum development, teaching and tuition for the new design degree that has recently been agreed. The analysis of the cards will also create a ‘Guide to Design Students’ which will be innovative creative resources to engage all staff with the student experience, enriching staff-student interactions at both individual and group levels. The insights will be disseminated inside the OU and the DRS academic design conference.

James Warren and Georgy Holden poster

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