Assessing and Improving the Experience of Underrepresented Populations: A Participatory Design Approach
Young, Scott W. H.
Fargo, Hailley M.
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Students of all backgrounds come to college with goals, expectations, and needs drawn from unique life experiences. How can we ensure that distinctive and diverse populations find their own successes at our institutions? To help answer this question, Scott Young and Hailley Fargo will present work on Participatory Assessment and lead a two-day workshop in support of understanding and improving student experience. Participatory Assessment is a socially-active, values-driven approach to engaged, co-creation that seeks to empower stakeholders through mutual learning, power sharing, and the equal recognition of expertise among all participants. Within this equity-focused, participatory framework, the students participants became expert library users who expressed readiness to advocate for the library to their peers. More than that, the students—members of underrepresented populations who often feel at the margins—developed a stronger sense of place and confidence on campus that will contribute to their success at our institutions. And for the librarian facilitators, the in-depth co-design process enhanced our ability to understand these student populations. We gained new insights into the experience of our student participants that we can apply to better serve these important populations. Ultimately, the Participatory Design process equipped us with the tools and insights to assess and improve the conditions of their success. Participatory Assessment can be an empowering and compassionate approach for designing and assessing library services and experiences. The key outcome of this workshop will be practical recommendations for building a sustainable, participatory assessment practice with distinctive populations.