The User Experience (UX) Research Capstone project presents students with an opportunity to demonstrate their competence through an individual project. Students propose, plan, and conduct ethnographic research that delivers actionable insights to stakeholders in a professional, ethical, and timely manner.
Highlights from recent capstones
For my capstone, I researched employee leave programs at two state agencies. I identified features of leave programs that were valued by employees, and how the agencies differed in the options they offered. I created a grid comparing leave programs at these agencies with 14 additional organizations to get a broader perspective. Next, I completed in-depth interviews with 12 employees, both professional and classified, as well as the human resource directors at both agencies. To generalize, I surveyed 36 additional employees. Besides identifying key features of leave programs desired by employees, I found that greater flexibility leads to higher motivation and higher retention. Work-day mood maps show the motivation of staff with rigid schedules declines after the lunch hour, and half are looking for new employment opportunities. In contrast, the motivation of professionals with flexible schedules remains high, and 75% plan to stay in their current job. My project will impact policies at both local agencies.
For my capstone I worked with my employer on a product that was not meeting our expectations for customer satisfaction. We were unable to fully understand what was happening based on quantitative data analysis. I used ethnography to gather qualitative data from different customer interaction channels to see if these methods could help provide more context and define the point in the customer experience where the failure occurred. While many reasons can be cited, and most situations are unique, qualitative ethnography identified subtle nuances in the customer journey that helped us develop new insights. The most enjoyable part of this project was being immersed in the process and applying ethnographic methods to better understand the gaps in the quantitative data.
With the support of the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE), I investigated the effectiveness of the college and career programs at three different high schools across Idaho. I conducted in-depth interviews with twelve students. I learned these students do not necessarily care to, nor become, “college or career ready” given the volume of information that is being forced on them. Instead, they prefer consistency throughout all four years in high school. Although at this age students care about their future and they want to succeed, they do not know where to start. I discovered that the same programs differed greatly in their expression across different schools, and how the culture of each school impacted the visions student had for the future. Amy Santee, Design Research and Strategy Consultant, mentored Inessa on her capstone.