Springboard is a service that helps immigrant parents navigate an unfamiliar school system through a template for initiating conversation with school staff.
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Parental involvement significantly impacts a student’s emotional well-being and academic success. Communication with school staff is an important aspect of involvement, but immigrant parents face barriers to involvement.
Lack of a common language hinders mutual understanding and the parent’s confidence to express themselves.
The procedures and roles of school staff differ across cultures, making it difficult for a parent to navigate a new school system.
Parents might have availability or resource constraints that aren’t relayed to school staff and thus not accommodated.
Given the barriers of language, culture, and assumptions, our team sought to improve the logistical efficiency of communication and encourage mutual understanding between teachers and immigrant parents.
This goal of our research was to identify existing problems with the communications between immigrant parents and the schools that their children attend, to generate insights and to inform design principles for our future product.
We used surveys to find out what media people use and prefer to use to communicate, as well as the content and goals of those communications.
When distributing surveys on Reddit, we found that many users participated in comment threads of our postings. These anonymous posts revealed unfiltered feelings parents and teachers had.
This method was designed by us as a way to investigate communications that have already occured. It draws elements from artifact analysis, contextual inquiry, and narrative research. We spoke to teachers and immigrant parents and they showed us emails, notes, and newsletters they sent or received.
To learn how to build a good parent teacher relationship, we created 7 prototypes that targeted different aspects of communication, such as how negotiations are structured, which physical and digital mediums best met the needs of a discussion, and to what extent we needed to guide conversations as the school year progressed.
Our investigations and evaluations led to the creation of Springboard, a service for helping immigrant parents start conversations with school staff. This is what a user's journey looks like with Springboard:
Parents and school staff might hear about Springboard through community centers, conferences, or word of mouth.
Parents and school staff learn about how Springboard enables them to join forces to support a child through informational content on our multilingual website.
The parent fills out the online template with their goals, questions, and availability. School staff may also fill out such information.
The parent and school staff come together to have a conversation about the parent’s goals and questions. An interpreter might input the plans and answers in each party’s respective language.
After the initial meeting, parents and school staff can view and share the results of their meeting online. The new relationship gives the student a cohesive network of support.
A major part of the Springboard service happens with the aid of a mobile-first web application.
Parents express their goals, leading to collaborative plans that allow them to be involved in their child’s education.
Parents ask about specific scenarios and unfamiliar terms, building up confidence to leverage school resources.
Parents and school staff share their availability constraints, allowing them to connect at mutually convenient times.
Users can comfortably express themselves in any language.
The entire interface is accessible to non-readers.
Prompts reveal the range of issues school staff can assist parents with.
Parents can learn about staff roles and unfamiliar school terms.