- Nottingham Trent University commissioned Shift Learning to conduct research to test their prospectus and to also understand the position it holds among other sources and tools used by prospective students to research courses and institutions at undergraduate level.
- They were also interested in finding out how parents fit into the decision-making process and how they interacted with prospectuses and other information sources.
Our approach and methodology
The research was conducted in three main stages:
- Co-creation focus groups with prospective undergraduate students. These were interactive 2.5 hour workshops with prospective students in a range of locations who had either accepted, declined, enquired or not enquired about a place at Nottingham Trent. These groups employed creative techniques to get respondents thinking about their decision-making process when applying to university, including a card-sort exercise, personification, psycho-drawing and creating their ideal prospectus from NTU’s and competitor prospectuses. We found that these techniques allowed us to gain valuable insight into respondents’ emotional journeys that a more traditional focus group discussion may not have gleaned.
- Ethnographic work and face-to-face interviews at the London UCAS HE Fair. We employed ethnography to observe how fair attendees actually interacted with university stands, prospectuses and other materials. We also conducted face-to-face interviews with attendees to give context to our observations.
- Phone interviews with parents of prospective students. These gave us insight into what role parents play in university decision-making and what resources they find most valuable when researching universities.
Delivering results and value to our client
- We provided Nottingham Trent University with a full report of all three stages, with recommendations based on our findings. This was a visual report which included images from the co-creation groups.
- We also travelled to Nottingham for a presentation of results followed by a discussion, allowing us to delve more deeply into key recommendations.