Use of Mood Cards in Workshops

Post date: May 15, 2018 8:20:32 PM

Student Engagement Workshop, Use of Mood Cards

By Katie Moore and Karen Render, Process Improvement Team, Student Lifecycle Programme, University of Leeds

On Weds 9th May the Process Improvement Team held a Student Engagement Workshop with the aim of gathering information about how students are accessing university services and their experiences of doing so. The purpose of the workshop was to “temperature check” the activities already in progress on the Student Lifecycle Programme.

The workshop provided the team with the opportunity to trial the use of mood cards - introduced to us by Karen Render (Process Improvement Analyst) who had used them during her time at North Yorks County Council – to enable participants to describe their experiences through the use of visual metaphors.

The first exercise took the students on a visual tour of student services, linked to when they might encounter them on their ‘student journey’ from application to graduation. They were asked to stick post-it notes on posters to indicate how and where they accessed services, elaborating on the nature of the transaction where they felt necessary. They then selected and placed a mood card in front of the poster to indicate how they felt about the interaction they’d had with the service. The students were then encouraged to share with the group their reasons for choosing those particular cards.

As this was the first time the team had used mood cards in a workshop, we were unsure how the participants might respond. By their own admission, all of the students at the event said they found verbal communication the most stressful, with the majority preferring to access services online rather than face to face or over the telephone – the data collected in the workshop bore this out. However, something about the mood cards enabled them to speak openly to the group about their experiences; perhaps the instantly recognisable mood of the images allowed the others to empathise, even before hearing the details? Or they enabled individuals to divert the focus away from themselves and on to the image/experience instead? Whatever the psychology behind it, very soon, participants who hadn’t even placed mood cards were chipping in with their own, similar or contrasting, experiences. Success!

In conclusion, mood cards could be a useful tool to facilitate discussion with participants who may be reluctant to verbally express themselves in a group setting. The feedback from the participants of this particular workshop suggests that they enjoyed using the cards, as they transformed what could have been a very drawn-out focus group into a fun and interactive exercise.