In an effort to better understand student experiences at Georgetown as our campus engages with and addresses issues of educational equity, Designing the Future(s) has partnered with The Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP) to launch a study on attitudes of belonging among first-generation students. Literature shows that first-generation college students encounter hurdles as they seek to develop a sense of belonging on campuses with a disproportionate percentage of students who come from families with greater experience in higher education and greater economic and social capital.
For this research, we are using SenseMaker, a new software developed to more accurately depict complex environments like Georgetown. It achieves this by helping individuals interpret their own stories and then aggregating these annotations into a network model that reveals larger patterns. The methodology involves collecting large numbers of short stories that, together, create a nuanced picture of a given topic, in the same way that many pixels come together to produce a clear image. SenseMaker also enables action. Instead of asking, “How do we create a culture of X?” it allows us to ask, “How do we create more stories like this and fewer stories like that?”
Our work using SenseMaker follows a three-step process: