The class of 2019 is the pioneering class for the Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship course at Ashesi University College. So we have a hands-on experience of the course like no one else. The course has been one of the most challenging courses anyone of us has encountered. Although to some, it was exciting. Our research project focused on a look-back at the entire FDE experience and coming up with ways to make it better. The research process includes personal reflections, interviews of other classmates and the use of ethnographic research tools and analysis frameworks. At the end of the research process, we came up with strategies and suggestions to make it better.
Based on our research, FDE was a major threat to students as it was not only a source of stress but also time consuming. The course which is made to be fun turned out to be an enemy to students. Based on our findings, this was as a result of the work load and poor timing.
Several methods and ideas have been proposed on how to go through the course. This is not only going to save on time taken but a convenient way of selecting FDE ventures for the second semester making it interesting and giving the students a motivation when working on their ventures. The two main methods which were suggested during the venture selection were the course registration method and CATME.
After brainstorming, we settled on the following objectives
1. To make FDE a course which every student enjoys doing for the two semesters
2. Enable students to apply knowledge gained from FDE in real life and reduce the workload of the course.
Our research method was a sandwich of both primary and secondary. The reason for this is based on the fact that for some of the pain areas discovered, it was easier to carry out interviews and/or send questionnaires. But for some, drawing insights from the internet was a lot easier and effective. The design thinking approach was used in almost every aspect of the process. The first thing we did was to brainstorm on the whole FDE experience. Secondly, we interviewed some of our colleagues to get a bigger picture. We then categorized our findings into headings indicating major pain points. After generating interview questions out of the pain points and carrying out the interviews, we used analysis frameworks to generate POV’s.
Findings/Analysis and discussion
After thorough research on the problem space, the data was obtained majorly in the form of notes from observational shadowing and depth interviews. The major information obtained was on the pros and cons the students had experienced taking the FDE course. Further, students gave their suggestions on how the negative aspects of the course would be changed for the better. Through card sorting, these were grouped into 8 groups under which similar suggestions fell. These were:
- Merging or Partnerships of ventures
- Ashesi venture accelerator’s role in FDE ventures
- Blogs/Websites for ventures Launching flexibility
- Choosing teams for FDE ventures
- Quizzes and Reading Assignments
- Grading of the Course
- Transition from a problem space to a business venture.
Through intuition, empathy and our analytical skills, we came up with hypothesis to these statements, and then went ahead to test them. For the most part, we used the idea of depth interviews by giving the research subject different scenarios and seeing how they would react to the different cases. Thereafter, analysis frameworks such as empathy maps, 2 X 2 matrix, journey maps and persona were used to analyze the outcomes of the hypothesis testing.
Solutions to the different problems that made
The aspect of partnership, FDE ventures should be encouraged to partner amongst themselves to boost the practice of the things learnt in class and other advantages
With old-fashioned way of choosing ventures was highly disliked by several students. Henceforth we came up with a solution that doodle or the “course registration system” should be used for selecting ventures in the second semester
CATME should be adopted in the FDE course for an effective evaluation of team members. And for an easier analysis of the students evaluations.
Furthermore, to improve on the awareness of the different FDE ventures, students should be encouraged to set up blogs, websites and social media. This will help them increase their awareness as a well as customers.
Quizzes should be reduced and further more readings should be explained before the quiz is taken.
Conclusions and recommendations
This research mainly aimed at making the FDE experience at Ashesi more effective, and not necessarily an easy course. With regards to this, the solutions suggested in this research are made after careful analysis of the research data. The reasons given by the research subjects are highly considered, and not just the mere statement of how the course should be modified. We therefore hope that with the outcome of this undertaking, the course will be more effective.
Suggestions for future research
- The number of teachers appropriate for a class at a specific semester should be looked into.
- The relevance of the specific text books for class should be further researched.
- Purity Musau
- Jobe Wuyeh
- Maureen Molly Basemera
- Margaret Odero