Development and evaluation of the Our Journey platform through the ‘Linked Journeys’ project

Coughlan, Tim; Lister, Kate and Lucassen, Mathijs (2020). Development and evaluation of the Our Journey platform through the ‘Linked Journeys’ project. Jisc.

Abstract

The Jisc-funded Linked Journeys project has contributed to the design, development and evaluation of a new mechanism for students to report on their experiences of events in their study. The project aimed to expand current understanding and practices in two areas:
• How new interfaces for students can provide insights into student mental health and wellbeing, and prompt students and staff to consider these issues.
• How new sources of data reported by students could enhance existing analytics and reduce current gaps in the understanding that can be drawn from these data sources.
Student mental health and wellbeing is a major concern, and new technologies and forms of data can be a part of the answer (Jisc, 2019). The benefit of the Linked Journeys project for the education sector is to provide an example system and insights into how we can improve on the currently available sources of data, which give limited understanding of the emotional wellbeing of our students.
The evaluation provided evidence that Our Journey could generate insightful data on the affective experiences in a student’s journey, to complement an understanding of the academic experiences.
Feedback from students was also positive. Students found the activity of representing their journey engaging, prompting them to think about their goals, development, and wellbeing.
Students in our workshop and trial survey provided insights into privacy and sharing issues. Students perceived a need for personal control of the journey. This facilitates honesty and avoids concern that they will be judged based on their experiences. Students expected to share information that is important with the appropriate staff. In general, students were happy to share their journeys with course and student support teams, but there may be exceptions, for example where a particular tutor was a cause of distress.
Linking data from a student’s journey with module-level registration and attainment analytics highlighted areas where the journey as viewed by the student was richer than the analytics suggested. Events that could be identified in existing analytics could be understood in more depth via the journey data. In other cases, the journey data added understanding about the student that was not present in the data, or did not link directly to the study of a specific module.
The version of the system now available at the conclusion of this project includes new features devised in response to the key issues raised in our exploration of these issues, including:
• Privacy: Students need to feel comfortable recording personal details, so they control how the journey is shared and are aware of who can view it. This is flexible to support a range of scenarios of use, and the design focuses on sharing with specific group ‘hosts’, rather than encouraging wider social media-style sharing by default.
• Focusing on events of interest: To enable journeys that includes specific events of interest, and can be better linked to other forms of data, hosts can create suggested events that their students are prompted to consider adding to their journey.
• Analysis and visualisation: To support staff awareness and analysis, heatmaps are generated for individuals and groups that amalgamate their emotional responses to types of events.
Building on this project and the current system, we want to build collaborations to develop pilots where Our Journey is used in their teaching contexts.

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