Design Strategy: Audience Readiness & Critical Thinking


Example of David Rose's Audience Receptivity Gradient created by Karen Hessing

Identity Mapping. "The interaction begins with a printed post card. The card acts as a prompt for reflecting individually before outwardly mapping with the group. Supplemental explanations are also written on the card to help anyone that might be struggling to determine their own identity aspects.

After completing the postcard prompt, each person maps their aspects. Everyone is encouraged to use the pins that others have placed when possible to begin visualizing the connections between people.

Once everyone has mapped their aspects, a facilitator should ask the group to make observations and discuss anything that was surprising. This conversation helps participants reach the Application level of critical thinking" Work and captions by Gina Smith

Anonymous Letters. "The set up includes a wall of windowed envelopes, printed cards for writing, and a submission box. On these cards, there is a space to write the aspect so it will show through the envelope once on the wall. The reverse side offers space to write the letter.

After writing a letter, each person should search the wall for identities they relate to, or just want to know more about. They can read the anonymous letter to get a better understanding of how others feel about their identities.

These cards can be kept from session to session, so the letters being read might be from past participants. But if desired, the participants should be allowed to keep any letter that resonates with them. " Work and caption by Gina Smith

\"The student spotlight posters show a student that is currently a member of the council and asks, “Who am I?” With the augmented reality reveal, the question changes to an “I am” statement and personal identifiers pop up written by the member that is pictured. This works as a way for viewers to get to know students in the council prior to even joining, which helps ease feelings of not belonging and the scariness of joining a new group without knowing anyone. \" Work and caption by Karen Hessing

"For this approach, I wanted to push a more lively and playful look. While thinking and considering all the layers and complexity that encompasses diversity and inclusion, I wanted to represent that using a diverse color palette, texture and shapes with this concept. I wanted this to be something different and fun to look at. Something that would get people to stop and take the time to read the content and be enticed and excited by it. " Work and caption by Jackie Aguilar-Vega

Duration: 16 weeks
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Project Brief

This semester we will work with the Vice Chancellor’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion on the University of Arkansas campus. Our primary charge is to raise awareness about the D&I efforts on campus and demonstrate why D&I is a critical component of a successful campus. How might we create a targeted narrative that is evolving and more than a static brand? How might you create experiences that resonate with audiences and push them a bit closer towards advocating for diversity and inclusion on campus?

You will work independently this semester to create a design strategy and resulting artifacts that targets specific audiences. There are no media restrictions as your artifacts should respond directly to your research. To develop your design strategy, we will use a unique framework that combines Robert Ennis’ Critical Thinking Competencies and David Rose’s Audience Receptivity Gradient.

Learning Objectives

• Independently conduct research (primary & secondary) on a topic at an advanced level

• Apply research knowledge to the thoughtful creation of a design strategy

• Demonstrate an understanding of systems thinking through the development of an appropriate strategy

• Create memorable artifacts that are refined and well-crafted

• Design across a range of media

• Explore new (to you) media areas and means of making

• Present compelling narratives to articulate your research and proposed artifacts


Design Strategy Presentation to client

Concept Presentation to client sharing two directions

Final Design Presentation to client including 3-5 artifacts


Robert Ennis’ Critical Thinking Competencies

David Rose’s Audience Receptivity Gradient


Overall, this was a wonderful experience for me, the students, and the client. The students were a bit overwhelmed at times with the complexity of the strategic framework but by the end of the semester, they felt confident not only in using the framework, but also explaining it to others. When first partnering with the office for Diversity and Inclusion, I wanted to do more than just create awareness about the work they were doing, but that was what the office really needed. By integrating the use of the Rose/Ennis framework, it elevated the course to a more systems based space that resulted in a higher level of learning for the students. I was happy that the student outcomes spanned across media, ranging from augmented reality posters, to interactive mapping experiences, to ‘on-boarding’ kits.

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