Research Plan: Austin Youth


Youth in Austin, Texas, especially from low-income families and those considered “At-Risk”, do not have access to learning about or developing skills in the design, design thinking, and creative industry. Lack of exposure to family or peers in creative fields limits their ability to explore these schools of thought. There are currently few resources that engage, inspire, and develop youth in the design field. There is also a lack of design professionals in the community reaching out to youth and offering to share/teach about creative professions (despite the wealth of design, creative, and tech companies in the area). Because of this, youth often do not get exposed to the design industry until high school or even later in their development.

Problem Statement:

Youth in Austin, especially from low-income families and those considered “At-Risk”, do not have access to current technology or resources in the creative/design fields (including mentors). As a result, less youth are involved in the design field. How might we inspire more youth to pursue the design and creative field?

Research Objectives:

1. Discover what access to tech/resources youth have. 
2. Understand the effect of youths’ lack of access to technology.
3. Asses if youth able to learn on own and why.
4. Identify the barriers to learning design/creative.
5. Gauge youths’ current knowledge of design/creative fields.
6. Determine interest in opportunities to learn more about the field.
7. Discover how youth may get access despite their setbacks/barriers.

Research Methods:

Desktop Research:
Scholarly articles on youth, the poverty gap, and technology.
Info on local schools and youth organizations in Austin.

Surveys for youth and adult leaders about knowledge/access/interest in tech/design/creative.

Teachers and Youth Leaders about youth knowledge/access/interest.

Focus Groups:
Oral survey of classroom or youth groups about knowledge and interest in the creative field.

Contextual Observation:
Lead a simple design/creative activity with classroom or youth group and observe behaviors and reactions to process.

Potential Questions & Activities:

Survey/Interview Questions:
Can you describe a typical day with your students/group?
2. Do you make time for art/creative projects?
3. What type of creative projects have you done with your students/group?
4. Are projects done by hand, with computers, or both?
5. Do you do any design related projects with your class/group?
6. How familiar are you with the design and creative fields?
7. How familiar do you feel your students are with the design and creative fields?
8. Do you and your students have access to technology in your workspace?
9. Do your students have access to technology at home?
10. Do you know where to access resources for design and creative projects?
11. How interested would you be in implementing more design related activities with your class?
12. How interested would you be in partnering with professionals in the community on design related projects?
13. How interested would you be in a program or workshops that would lead design and creative projects with your students/group?
14. How interested do you feel your students/group would be in exploring design and creative projects?
15. What creative projects do you think your students/group would like to explore?
16. What barriers or challenges do you see for you and your students/group in exploring design and creative projects? Any thoughts on how to bridge these barriers?
17. Anything else interest you about the design and creative field in relation to your students/group?

Student Focus Group:
How many of you like to draw or make art? What do you make?
2. Who has a computer/app/phone at home?
3. Who can tell me what graphics are?
4. Who here knows what design is?
5. What is your favorite phone or tablet app/game? What do you like? Why?
6. Have any of you ever heard of or used Photoshop or the Adobe Creative Suite programs?
7. Do know what the Creative Field is and what Creatives do?
8. Who can tell me what a graphic designer is/does?
9. Who can tell me what a UI/UX Designer is/does?
10. Who here is interested in pursuing a career in the creative field when they grow up?
11. Who knows what do you need to do to become a designer/creative?

Mini Design Projects:
Create Your Own Business Card
2. Create Your Own Logo
3. Custom Package Label

Persona Artifacts: