Life Design

A Quick Life Design Activity to Meet Student Volunteers Where They Are

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This post is part of the series on prototyping the integration of life design and research design. Check here for all current posts.

After recruiting a set of volunteers, I met with each person to understand where they were at, in terms of university, career-planning, and life. This post details how I used a quick life design activity to kick-start that conversation.

Meeting the Student Volunteers

Due to scheduling, there wasn’t one block of time in which all student volunteers could meet. I decided to set up 30-minute sessions with each of them to give them a quick overview of my vision for the project, learn about them, and answer any initial questions.

I first gave them an overview of my vision for the project: prototyping the integration of life design into active research to create a fulfilling experience for students, which executing original research.

Quick Life Design Activity – Meeting Students Volunteers Where They Are

We immediately started with a quick life design activity. I asked students to take 2 minutes of quiet brainstorming to answer the following question:

Based on information our project has presented and your own experiences, what do you hope to get out of this research experience?

Each student wrote a separate thought on a post-it.

Here are the results:

I recorded the notes using the Post-It app
Post-it app recordings converted to a word cloud

Closing Thoughts

While my meeting with each student covered a few additional topics (i.e., preferred communication styles, schedule for the semester, etc.), this quick life design activity took 5 minutes and helped set the tone of the meeting and our project.

This life design activity helped me accomplish 3 goals:

Goal 1: I wanted to be intentional about integrating life design into the research process. Starting with a life design activity from the start, helped set that standard.

Goal 2: More importantly, I wanted students to know that their development is a priority, as well as their volunteered time. Giving them the space to articulate their goals and go over them facilitated the start of this process.

Goal 3: For myself, this exercise helped me in scoping out our research project. There are many ways to tackle a dataset and getting the students’ feedback helped me locate a trajectory that would be mutually beneficial.

This quick activity and its results are something I will look at throughout the semester. It will be an anchor for the students and myself. This quick activity can be integrated at any phase of a project and it is particularly powerful in the beginning.

How have you learned about the goals and expectations of student volunteers? Let me know in the comments.

This post is part of the series on prototyping the integration of life design and research design. Check here for all current posts.

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