CROSS CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING

I wanted to utilise technology to aid in the cross cultural relationships between home and international students at The University of the West of England. To do so I conducted research into why students from different cultures were having trouble integrating with one another, and what issues they faced when moving to the UK to study.

During this project I conducted research by:

  • Reading articles that focused on the differences in communication styles of different cultures
  • Speaking with the Coordinating Chaplin for the Universities Faith and Spirituality team
  • Conducting interviews with both international and home students to find out what issues they are experiencing

RESEARCH

I met with Mr Ian Yemm who is the University Coordinating Chaplain for the UWE Faith and Spirituality Team. He works very closely with overseas students to help facilitate religious practices on campus.

We spoke about the relationship between international and home students and he said that, while UWE is very ‘diverse and accepting’, ‘religious literacy’ was an issue.

UK students can be put off from talking to international students as the topic of religion can cause them to worry they may say something to offend, or they may feel as though they shouldn’t ask questions in the first place. He felt that if students had easy access to information they would feel less daunted and it would make it easier for people to make friends.

This gave me some great insight that was consistent with my earlier research; having more information on different cultures would help to bridge the gap and help friendships form.

Following this I spoke with two international students and one home student about their experiences at University. 

The biggest insights were:

  • People make assumptions about race

  • There is a lack of understanding between different cultures

  • Lack of opportunity to meet new people

PROTO-PERSONAS, USE CASES & WIREFRAMES

Following online research into the problem of why international students struggle to integrate into University life I created two proto-personas and scenarios.

PAPER PROTOTYPE TESTING

I sat down with a student and conducted user testing with a low-fidelity paper prototype. I gave them instructions to ‘navigate’ through the app to complete a series of tasks. I took notes of how easy or difficult they found each task to complete to see what worked and what didn't.

PROTOTYPE

The paper prototype session was beneficial as it helped me to identify functionality that was missing; such as giving the user a place to find which events they had signed up for. This would improve engagement as it would stop important information being buried. To realise these insights I created a prototype using Invision.