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What Are Personas?

Personas are a useful tool for understanding user needs, differentiating between different types of users and prioritizing which users are most important to target in the design of function and behavior. (Alan Cooper, About Face 2.0)

Personas are best defined as genericized models or archetypes of users in a software environment.
Each persona represents a group of users who share a distinct set of usage patterns.
Patterns are best identified through ethnographic interviews, contextual inquiry or a collection of user stories.

To be effective, personas should be:
-Context Specific
-Focused on Behaviors or Goals related to a specific domain of the product
-Non-Redundant - (ie each user does not need their own persona if what one group of users needs to do in the system is nearly identical with what a previously identified group of users needs to do)

How Do Personas Differ from Roles?

One way of thinking about this distinction is that roles are generally task based, whereas personas are generally goal based.
Personas use goals to provide context to and structure for tasks, incorporating cultural and workflow information and translating it into behavioral drivers. (Cooper, About Face 2.0).


Key Portfolio Personas

(need to add individual details, pictures etc at some point - like the sakai persona map)

Student

Goals / Needs:

  • Keep all my stuff somewhere where I won't lose it
  • Make sense of my educational experience
  • Reuse my stuff for different purposes in different contexts
  • Show off things I've done and am doing to people outside of my classes
  • Demonstrate what I've learned and how I've changed/grown
  • Improve skills through sharing and receiving feedback from teachers and classmates
  • Keep track of things I need to do
  • Maintain connections to family and friends in creative ways
  • Express myself creatively/uniquely
  • Find a job
  • Find other students with similar interests/appreciations
  • Apply to grad school/summer internship, etc.
  • Prove to my parents that the tuition was worth it

Faculty

Goals / Needs:

  • Minimize busywork and admininstrative overhead in teaching, grading or classroom preparation
  • Prompt students to think reflectively about their work
  • Help students integrate coursework and co-curricular activities
  • Help students understand relationships between theories and practice
  • Better understand my students and their perspectives
  • Measure student learning and understanding/Get a sense of my effectiveness as a teacher
  • Demonstrate impact of my teaching on student learning
  • Meet programmatic assessment requirements
  • Meet institutional assessment requirements
  • Make tenure
  • Get a raise

Individual Evaluator - Internal

e.g.

Goals / Needs:

  • Locate relevant evaluative rubrics
  • Review student work
  • Evaluate objectively
  • Provide consistent feedback on student work
  • Help determine if students have met requirements or competencies
  • Provide evaluations with minimal amount of effort/redundancy, etc

Individual Evaluator - External

e.g. Field supervisor, community professionals providing real-world feedback

Goals / Needs:

  • Figure out how to do what's asked of me in the system
  • Understand the context for evaluation

Program and/or Assessment Coordinator

Goals / Needs:

  • Identify activities that demonstrate student achievement of goals
  • Create rubrics that accurately gauge effectiveness of curriculum
  • Review work to provide feedback for programmatic improvement
  • Give feedback to program

It seems like there's a lot missing here to me. What are these users actually doing in the system? Are they the ones creating links between goals and activities? Are they deciding upon rubrics for assessing based on different criteria? Are they coming up with report definitions necessary to capture this info? Or am I way off here? (HR)


Institutional Administrator/Program Evaluator/Number Cruncher

Goals / Needs:

  • Collect data for institutional/programmatic accountability
  • Demonstrate institutional effectiveness
  • Provide representative examples of student work across competency levels
  • Integrate external student performance and demographic data into reports
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness of ePortfolios on stuents engagement and learning

Parent Viewer

Goals / Needs:

  • Know what my child is working on and how they're doing
  • See what my tuition is paying for
  • Stay connected to my child/ren

Potential Employer

Goals / Needs:

  • Evaluate skills and competencies
  • Groom students to their line of thinking
  • See broader strokes of a student than GPA
  • Make judgments on personal and cultural fit for organization

External Collaborator

Goals / Needs:

  • Help develop requirements for projects
  • Offer critique on learning objectives and outcomes
  • Review program goals and activities

Academic Advisor

Goals / Needs:

  • Look at a full picture of a student's progress
  • Suggest additional work that would meet certain objectives
  • Work on personal learning plans for students

Accrediting Reviewer

Goals / Needs:

  • See examples of student work meeting certain criteria
  • View assessment showcase of programs and student learning

Scaffolding Author / Instructional Designer

Goals / Needs:

  • Leverage the creativity available within the bounds of the system
  • How it can – not why it can't?
  • Create data structures that CAN be reused
  • Design intuitive experiences
  • Keep your users happy – user delight
  • Facilitate the program and faculty vision for portfolios
  • Drive requirements for future development
  • USE THINGS THAT EXIST (draw from community experience and support groups)

Tenure Review/Promotion Committee

Goals / Needs:

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1 Comment

  1. It seems like some of these overlap. If the pattern of usage in the system or the goals of personas we've identified here overlap significantly, shouldn't we be able to collapse a few of these and make things simpler. One case in point would be: Individual Evaluator (internal vs external).
    I've made some clean up changes to this page since the meeting. To view previous versions, see the options under the Info tab. I also removed one or two personas such as Trainer since a Trainer is not a primary actor in the system (ie the primary goal of a trainer is not to create or evaluate a portfolio) and that's what we're hoping to focus on here.