Generating support in a low-trust scenario
Interaction Design, Design Research
North Carolina State University
This investigation started with a basic question: how can design mediate relationships among people in a shared task?
The shared task in this investigation is supporting college students after the termination of a romantic relationship. Early research into the context of concerning student behaviors in University settings, we discovered that break-ups were often the source of mental and physical health issues. University counselors, students, housing directors, faculty, and behavioral case managers were all interviewed to gain insight into the network.
Through user and scenario research, it became clear that trust, self-identification, and varying points of direct and indirect communications affected interactions within the support network. If a student did not trust his/her network, the student would not reach out and therefore not receive necessary support. I concluded that a student’s trust and self-identification was dependent on past experiences and other external factors that a design intervention could not control. I decided to invert the system to engage University staff and faculty, with the goal to "catch" those students that did not seek support on their own accord.
My solution was a digital information portal and feedback space where faculty and staff could seek support if and when they noticed a concerning student behavior. By supporting staff and faculty, the system supports students who lack the trust and self-identification necessary to reach out for help.
Mental model diagramming
User experience mapping
User interviews of students, campus counselors, and behavioral student specialist, student housing director
Instructor: Meredith Davis
User research in collaboration with Jeri-lynn Gehr and Dennis Calloway
"It actually can be frustrating for a therapist when you see that clients maybe don’t have the best friends and they don’t have the healthiest support system, because as a therapist, that’s something you kind of rely on pretty heavily."
Kathleen, Pre-Doctoral Intern and Counselor, NCSU Counseling Services