Persona Worksheet Assignment

I stumbled upon this tweet by Laura Pasquini, and it got me thinking about this learning activity I have in my USFSM EME6613 course related to personas and accessibility. I had not documented this publicly, so I thought this would be a good time to revive my stagnating blog.

The way I approached this activity was by tackling two concepts at once: empathy and accessibility.

After having been exposed to Universal Design for Learning and Accessibility, I gave my learners the following prompt:

Now that you have a better understanding of who’s on the other side of the screen, this activity is intended to let you create a typical student profile you deal with on a regular basis in your teaching assignments (or as student peers of yours if you don’t teach).

This fictitious persona (this is a creative assignment, don’t use real names) should represent a segment of the student population you have in your courses. For example, if you teach in a community college, you could decide to create a persona around a first-generation college attendee, a single mother, or an Army veteran. If you’re teaching adults in a professional setting, the persona could represent a mid-career middle manager, the person who’s forced to be there because their boss told them, etc.

Try to describe someone who could be challenged in succeeding in your class, throw in a disability in there just for good cause.

I provide them with this Google Docs worksheet to guide the creation of their persona. Once learners have submitted, I go through one round of peer review so that different people can review the work of others but also get exposed to the reality of different types of learners, the overarching goal being to stop blaming learners for not following your narrowly defined prescribed learning path.

Anyway, feel free to use and remix any part of this, it is shared under a CC By licence! Let me know if you do, and share your learning activities related to accessibility or personas in the comments or ping me on Twitter!

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