Thursday, 14 February 2013

Are our students modifying their behaviour to fit our system?

Image by Ben Oh
I think the penny is beginning to drop. Slowly.

I had a systems thinking conversation with Kim yesterday and we both realised something. I blogged last week about the fact that we have been coding our demand data too early and so the help desk have been unintentionally squeezing demand data into our categories that the demand may not necessarily fit. For example, a student might come into The Hub and say "I'd like help with my CV" and we might hear this as (and categorise it as) "I want an appointment", which may not be what they actually want (they might just want a link to a web page that can help them or they may just want someone to check something quickly or it may be that the help desk can answer their query directly). This I got last week.

What I only got yesterday, however, is that students may actually be modifying their behaviour and language to fit with our systems. So they may come in and actually say "Can I have an appointment" because that's how they understand us to be set up to help them, when they might actually mean "I need help with an assessment centre that I have next week", which might be a demand that could be met by us via a workshop that we are running or a web page or a quick chat with someone - but not necessarily an appointment. We are therefore now recording the demand in more detail - not just in their own words (this bit we started doing last week) but checking what they actually mean by, for example, if they ask for an appointment asking them why they want one. Kim is then going to categorise the data from this before we have a meeting with the very helpful Systems Thinking Pete.

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