Giving students a space to catalyze confidence

How might a new makerspace at a community college boost students’ confidence in their futures? Through a variety of activities and live prototypes, we learned it needs to help students discover their interests and apply them to their real lives.

When Lakeland Community College had an opportunity to create a new makerspace on campus, its president came to IDEO because he envisioned more than a room full of tools. His goal is for the space to be transformational for students, whose graduation rates are low and challenges are high.

Using methods such as meeting students at their homes, commuting with them to school and work, shadowing them in class, and co-creating with them, we learned that many of them see education as black and white – serious and career-focused instead of exploratory and imaginative.

A few of the opportunity areas to help them build their sense of agency and try new things included:

With many being the first in their families to go to college, success can feel tenuous. Activities that appear low-stakes have the highest potential to get them in the door.

These students are used to being self-reliant. They need opportunities to see how collaborating with others can make their work stronger and more creative.

They’re constantly aware of the struggles it took to get here. Providing ways to help others with similarly challenging circumstances is a powerful motivator for involvement.

These insights inspired us to create signature service touchpoints and environmental designs for a hands-on, inclusive, and collaborative hub for real-world problem solving.

Our clients joined us for the entire process. As opening day of the space nears, they’ve seamlessly taken the helm of sharing and demonstrating its purpose.