University of Arizona collaboration resulted in a human-centered degree search interface
World Wide Technology recently published a case study describing their collaboration with the University on the facilitation, design, and development of the Degree Search application and website.
Established in 1885, the University of Arizona is a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools. Arizona is a student-centric university and home to nationally ranked graduate programs, including the Eller College of Management’s management information systems program (U.S. News & World Reports’ 2020 No. 1 among public universities). Arizona is also a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures.
The university’s goal was to provide a new degree search and transfer planning portal for prospective students. The platform would enable prospective students to save majors they were interested in, record transfer credits, discover ideal degree paths and quickly connect them to Arizona’s enrollment advisors and application for admission. The long-term vision was for current students also to leverage the solution for degree program changes.
Arizona approached World Wide Technology (WWT) to accelerate the university’s progress in creating a solution that would streamline its existing degree search functionality and add new critical course mapping capability for prospective transfer students. The university’s previous solution required a comprehensive overhaul because prospective students, academic advisors, and community college partners found the solution frustrating to navigate with out-of-date or missing information. This confusion complicated the university’s ability to easily attract and create a dialogue with prospective students early in their degree search process and enrollment journey.
"When the University of Arizona needed to replace our legacy degree search and extend its capabilities with transfer planning, I knew it was going to be a complex effort involving multiple stakeholder groups with varying priorities, integration to our underlying PeopleSoft Campus Solutions product, and placement in the university’s primary web real estate. Having worked with WWT on other efforts, I knew they would be the right collaborative partner. The resulting product and associated outcome metrics speak for themselves."
Darcy Van Patten
Chief Technology Officer, The University of Arizona
Engage: Engaging through a compelling digital experience for exploring interesting degree programs compatible with student interests and career goals.
Empower: Empowering transfer students and advisors to quickly understand how community college achievements can contribute towards completing a degree.
Connect: Fostering human connections between prospective students, Arizona staff and community college advisors to provide the best planning experience possible and decision to apply for admission.
WWT engaged internal WWT State, Local and Education (SLED) digital strategy expertise and Application Services’ User Experience team to facilitate a scoping session with key university stakeholders. This session clarified strategic priorities and established a roadmap that guided the design and build the solution. Together, the University of Arizona, its community college partners and WWT defined the existing experience, created a vision for the ideal experience and developed design concepts for a solution.
To define the current user experience, WWT created personas for prospective transfer students and community college academic advisors. The personas were developed through empathy mapping sessions with focus groups of students and advisors from local community college and university transfer students. In these sessions, participants described what they thought, felt, heard, saw and said throughout the experience of finding a major. Participants also expressed painful steps in the process, including affordability of higher education, availability of financial aid and scholarships, and transferring completed coursework. Success in their academic experience meant increased career stability, an opportunity for future financial improvement, and stronger positioning to support family needs.