GSIF Blog #5

This week’s lecture focused on the design process and bringing seemingly simple ideas to life. I think that a design process that is effective for me would focus around repetition and trial and error of design. For my project specifically there isn’t necessarily a traditional design aspect, however I am developing and designing a survey that has to be effective and useful. The first and largest step in this design process is research. Knowing what information we need for our survey is critical because this forms the basis of our questions. In addition, knowing how to phrase questions and what language and dialect to put it in is also crucial. So deep diving into research and survey development is very important in my design process. Personally, I know my ideas tend to come in spurts, so it usually takes me several drafts of an essay or other pieces of writing to get one I am happy with. Applying this multi-stage design process to survey development would be very useful because many factors go into writing a good survey. Personal biases and phrasing of questions can have the potential to skew answers so testing and workshopping my questionnaire multiple times and going back over questions would most likely spark new ideas or ways to make questions more succinct.

My project concept has a lot of working parts and relies greatly on in-country resources and contacts as well as the technology we decide to use to administer our survey. We are still deciding between using paper surveys, a website, or an app but recently discovered that many people lack the phones or tablets that run apps. With this in mind, if we use an app we most likely will need to add another step of distributing tablets to run the program. Having colleagues and in-country contacts give feedback on our methodology based on their unique insights into Sierra Leone validates that what we are spending this semester working on will actually be effective once we arrive. Their perspectives on what will be effective comes from their experience with the culture and social constructs in country. Even if the technology we use can work, it doesn’t guarantee that respondents will feel comfortable or will want to use it so the validation we have been receiving through feedback has been critical in our survey development process. Furthermore, once we are finished fully composing the questionnaire, my team is partnering with a faculty member in the psychology department with knowledge about survey development who can provide us with advice about our questions and overall structure. This would validate that the survey will be useful and that we will receive the most reliable responses as possible.

I am interested in engaging with global communities in order to drive sustainable solutions to real-life problems. I want to go even beyond what I have learned in the classroom to explore new subject areas. For me, being able to use my skills not just to solve problems, but to solve problems that matter make a significant difference is a driving force for why I choose to engage. I also love making connections with people. Learning more about different perspectives and ways of life makes me more aware of the world around me and gives me a purpose beyond just waking up and going to sleep every day. Engaging in a positive way with communities, partners, and markets to me means being respectful, open minded, willing to learn, and engaging. The most valuable resources are the perspectives and insights of those who have years of experience and I think by working together constructively, their knowledge can be used to its fullest potential.

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