MA-codesign thesis project: Clarified Students

In her final codesign thesis project Rikke Gjerulff worked with the challenge that too many students in higher education drop-out which is expensive for the Danish society. Rikke worked in close collaboration with Mindlab, The Ministry of Education and The Ministry of Higher Education and Sciences. The recipients of the work was the so-called ‘Aftagerpanelet’ which is a panel consisting of 10-12 professionals representing various further education institutions (e.g. KU, AU, VIA university college) appointed by the Ministry of Education.

Why students drop out

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science have recently published a report (2018) which states that the drop-out rate at higher educations is 16 percent. About half of those that drop out have commenced on a new education within a year, indicating that the students had chosen the ‘wrong’ education. The more specific reasons for dropping out are mixed but according to the report the most prevalent explanations given are:

– The academic/professional level of the education being too high 

– Disappointment about the job opportunities that the education provided 

– The education being too theoretical and not practical/tangible enough 

In the thesis report Rikke argues that the reasons for dropping out should be something that – to a large extent – could be mitigated through better counselling, i.e. before the students choose an educational track. For this reason the problem statement is:

How can student counselling enable high school seniors to choose the further education that is right for them based on their interests and professional skills and thereby reduce the drop-out rate?

The codesign proces

The codesign process included extensive desk research on existing tools, and many iterations with encounters with professional councellers, high school students and students from higher education.

End product – a reflective educational app

As it turns out – based on the research encounters I performed – young adults are today missing some sort of counselling effort or tool that enable (and challenge) prospective higher education students to critically reflect more about what to study. This trend manifest itself despite there being a myriad of existing tools and counselling offers that are intended to help young adults pick the education that is right for them. The amount and breadth of ‘guidance tools’ is massive and thus required a lot of desktop research to understand the many initiatives. 

The final result and end product of my project has therefore been a prototype of an application focused on organizing young adults’ reflections and considerations about choice of study. The actual application was co-designed during three generative prototyping encounters with high school senior students.

If you want to know more about Rikke Gjerulff’s thesis project, which was finalized in June 2018 you can contact her on rikke.gjerulff [at] hotmail.com

Rikke is today employed as senior brand designer at DesignIt where she will be using the codesign mindset and skills in facilitating workshops, creating dialogue tools to develop new brands or strengthen existing brands.

About Eva Brandt

Eva Brandt is Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, and holds a Ph.D from 2001. Eva is co-leading the Center for Research in Codesign (CODE). Since September 2014 she has been part of the main faculty for a two year international MA-program in codesign. The main part of her research is about how designers can stage open design processes (design labs) with many participants who both can inquire into existing practices and explore possible futures in common. She also contributes to theorizing about experimental design research driven by programs and experiments. She has been contributing to several books such as Design Spaces (IT Press, 2005), Rehearsing the Future (The Danish Design School Press, 2010), XLAB (The Danish Design School Press, 2011), Facilitating Change – Using Interactive Methods in Organizations, Communities and Networks (Polyteknisk Forlag, 2011), and Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design (Routledge, 2013). Eva has been chairing the Nordic Design Research Conference in 2013.
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