Processing&Unity | Kinect
Research | Interaction design | Development
Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other.
I have had multiple diverse ‘new students’ experiences: moved to southern city of China for undergrad, studied in Canada as an exchange student and came to the US as an international graduate student.
Out of the three experiences, I was paired with a mentor twice. I got lucky to be paired with mentors who helped me in many aspects; we became good friends and still keep our connections . However, under the same pairing system (from the same program, no specific requirements, and no supervising), some of my classmates were very unhappy with their mentors and almost never contacted each other.
This perfectly brings me the same questions from the prompt: how someone may become a mentor and how to connect mentors to mentees to offer both parties with satisfying experience and hopefully transformative relationship.
Your school wants to strengthen the community by encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life. Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other. Consider the needs of both mentors and mentees, including how someone may become a mentor and how to connect mentors to mentees.
First year students
With experience that could help adapt new students’ needs
Set the criteria, review pairing applications, and facilitate the mentorship
Needs of mentees might vary as time goes
Needs of mentees might vary as time goes
Help school provide a platform to pair mentors and mentees based on potential needs of both parties
I did research on current mentoring programs that are posted online from seven schools, NYU, Dartmouth College, Columbia University and four others. The mentoring opportunities of different schools and applying process are largely identical with minor differences. In the following graph, I only leave the mentoring programs which more than one school have.
From grouping, I found that the existing could be concluded as Group mentoring, Peer mentoring and Alumni-student mentoring.
For group mentoring, groups are mainly LGBTQ+, international students and specific ethics. For peering mentoring, it serves for a specific department, which means students could only have peer mentors from their own department. Therefore, academic background, cultural background and identities recognition are composed of the important criteria.
Although we are not considering alumni-student mentoring, I analyzed the needs for this type which could be also used for students mentoring: career development and social connections.
The mentor-mentee relationship could be one-to-one or one-to-many under any type of mentoring.
I concluded the major application process most schools are using:
After learning how the existing mentoring programs work, I would love to further understand how students evaluate them and dive into their needs in the mentor/mentee relationships.
Therefore, I decided to conducted on-site and online interviews with university students of each category across the U.S., China, Australia and Canada.
Derived from the findings of previous research, I would love to find answers to the following three main questions from potential users.
Derived from the interview conclusion and based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
More for ‘one mentor-to-many mentees’ settings
I picked up the most important process in the pairing and finding process, based on which, I analyzed main pains of all stakeholders and find opportunities to solve the problems.
From the above 'opportunities' exploration, the goal could be divided into three specific tasks:
*Additional findings: Some small programs might have their own mentoring plans. Due to a relatively small amount of applicants, the program officers will send a google form/email with several questions to help pairing.
Add chatroom and allow them to share other messaging channels(social media/phone number)
From design opportunities, I quickly sketched out the user flow and drew a few major wireframes for usability testing. In the main discovery page, feedback I received from user test is that: General peer mentoring>mini-mentoring>=Group-mentoring. (Even though the participant samples are relatively small, only five to six, their feedback is pretty identical). Also, in the second iteration, I eliminated unnecessary interface distinctions between mentor and mentee by using general wording.
Based on the user flow, I made low-fi for main pages and created the wireframe. I will explain the design process specifically in the following sections.
Why I designed this layout?
As I mentioned earlier, I found that for the audience breadth, General peer mentoring>mini-mentoring>=Group mentoring.
1. Target audience of 'General Peer Mentoring' is ALL NEW STUDENTS. So I place this part at the top. At the most beginning, especially when the first time user opens this app, it should be striking enough to help navigate new students.
2. Mini-mentoring is more dynamic and students would browse this part the most frequently. So it would be better to place it in the center of interface. At the same time, it has the second largest target audience.
3. Group mentoring is more for specific groups and has clear target audience, which indicates a smaller amount of users. However, in the time wise, it aims at building longer relationships than mini-mentoring. Hence, the group mentoring item will be bigger than that of mini-mentoring.
#meet needs of mentors and mentees:
Not everyone clearly knows what they want and the exploration of mentee’s needs along with the company of mentor could be a growing opportunity both mentors and mentees. In this case, general peer mentoring could be a starting point for mentees to build connections and long-term relationship. Also, it’s easier to address the tension when new students have some senior friends to talk to.
Mini-mentoring is more for new students at a later stage of school.
The introduction of mini-mentoring is a way to help both parties have a clear goal in mind and efficiently solve problems.
For mentors, mentors want to maximize their help as well as devote a certain amount of time into the mentoring program instead of constant inefficient communication. Also, mentors will have a better knowledge of what they could offer which guarantees the quality of mentoring, as a result, both parties reach their goal.
The need of love, belonging and esteem undoubtedly has a huge impact on human beings expect when it comes to new environment. The group mentoring aims to offer students opportunities to find their belonging to bring them home-like feelings.
For mentors, they are leading a group which not only could make them be a part of their own community and have a sense of belonging, but also could they enhance their leadership, interpersonal skills and further help their own career path.
work efficiency, mentors could save more time to support students for their real needs instead of wasting time on contacting and scheduling.
Through left swiping the chat item, users could share contact to each other which will help them hold informal conversations more easily.
Instead of checking school email before coming to school, mentees could timely receive notification from their new mentor.
Group mentoring could utilize group chat to announce and schedule new events/meetings, which would greatly improve the work efficiency by just adding the events into the Google Calendar.
For future steps, I would love to put more effort into micro interactions and details.
I will further dig into the research how the questions could be rephrased to be less sensitive and would avoid the prejudice as well as gather necessary information.
Due to time limitations, the interview only covered groups including Asian American, international students and LGBTQ+. I would love to dive more into other groups of students and explore their needs.
Use Google Maps to directly share the meeting point of mentors and mentees
Use Google Calendar to add new mini-mentoring into schedule