Case Study of the Week for the OU’s SUPI project

The Open University’s Schools University Partnership Initiative (SUPI) is being featured as the ‘Case Study of the Week’ on the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s (NCCPE’s) website.

Over the last year Trevor Collins (KMI), Peter Devine (IET), Rick Holliman (Science) and Mark Russell (Denbigh School) ran a series of participatory design workshops to explore the perceptions of school-university partnerships held by young people and university researchers, with the purpose of developing some information resources for schools and researchers that communicate the values underpinning the initiative. A case study explaining the approach was written up as part of the annual report for the initiative and has been selected for publication on the NCCPE site along with some supporting resources.

Through a series of five school sessions and one university session we worked with six school pupils and twelve university researchers to draw, group and review a set of positive and negative attributes they associate with school-university engagement practices. Once started the pupils and researchers found drawing a quick and easy way of generating attributes that would have been more challenging to write as a list of words (see the stop-frame animation in the case study linked below). Comparing and contrasting the attributes identified by students and university researchers led to further discussions of the form and format of engagement activities. We then worked with the Denbigh pupils to develop a design for a wristband that will be used as a means to communicate and promote the values of the partnership initiative.

In this case, collaboration through participatory design led to an outcome that neither group would have produced individually. Working together was the only way to gain an insight into the priorities and values held by pupils and researchers, which was a necessary foundation for communicating effectively the goals of the initiative. Being showcased by the NCCPE brings this work to national attention and provides a further means for sharing the participatory design approach with the wider engagement community.

Related Links:

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Communicating Partnership – A Schools University Partnership Initiative case study
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SUPI wristbands showing the values of the Schools University Partnetship Initiative
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Denbigh pupils drawing the attributues they associate with school-university engagement practices


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