Asee peer logo

Work In Progress: Methodological Considerations for Constructing Nontraditional Student Personas with Scenarios from Online Forum Usage Data in Calculus

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Applied Frameworks

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Angela Minichiello P.E. Utah State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Angela Minichiello is an assistant professor the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University (USU) and a registered professional mechanical engineer. Angela earned a BSME degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a MSME degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Engineering Education from USU. Her research examines issues of access, diversity, and inclusivity in engineering education. In particular, she is interested in engineering e-learning and the discovery of traversable engineering pathways for nontraditional, low-income, first generation, and veteran undergraduates.

visit author page


Joel Raymond Hood Utah State University - Engineering Education

visit author page

Joel Hood's background spans Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Education. Obtained his Bachelor's of Science degree from Boise State University in Mechanical Engineering and hopes to continue post-graduate education at Utah State University in the future. Currently employed as a full time Engineer in industry. Specific interests include Online Education, Teaching, and Assessment.

visit author page


Derrick S. Harkness Utah State University

visit author page

I am currently a graduate student at Utah State University working on a Master's degree in Mathematics with an emphasis in Education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This work in progress paper examines methodological considerations for developing and employing personas (fictional, archetypal characters developed from research data to represent targeted product user groups) with scenarios (narrative descriptions of the actions targeted users take within a particular context) as tools for communicating educational research findings and broadening participation of diverse students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). As part of an on-going NSF sponsored project to explore nontraditional student engagement in online support forums in distance-delivered calculus, we propose to construct student personas with contextualized scenarios from an existing mixed dataset. The dataset describes student actions, behaviors, and goals and consists of exam scores, demographic and attitudinal survey responses, online forum postings, interview transcripts, and observational field notes. Once developed, the personas with scenarios will form the basis of an online forum student usage model that will be broadly disseminated as research findings.

In this paper, we describe methodological considerations synthesized from a review of cross-disciplinary approaches to persona/scenario development documented within the user-centered design and human-computer interaction literature. During our review, we pay particular attention to emerging use of student-focused personas/scenarios within STEM education. We use findings from the literature to develop methodologically appropriate next steps for constructing and assessing data-driven student personas with scenarios from our existing dataset. During follow on work, we will employ these steps to develop, disseminate and assess personas with scenarios as tools for broadening participation and inclusion in STEM education.

Minichiello, A., & Hood, J. R., & Harkness, D. S. (2017, June), Work In Progress: Methodological Considerations for Constructing Nontraditional Student Personas with Scenarios from Online Forum Usage Data in Calculus Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29171

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015