University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science & Arts

Transfer Student Center

Evaluating Michigan's Community Colleges Pre-transfer Advising Process



UX Researcher, Client communication


16 weeks Jan 2022 - May 2022

Project Type

Contextual Inquiry Β | UX Research | Consulting


Figma (Prototypes, Mockups), Survey Monkey, Paper+Pen(Rapid Prototyping), Photoshop, illustrator (Poster Design)Adobe Premiere Pro(Video)


πŸ’‘Our research project focused on the Transfer Bridges program at the University of Michigan, which aims to support students enrolled in Michigan community colleges who desire to initiate their academic journey at their local institution and subsequently transfer to U-M Ann Arbor's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) to obtain their bachelor's degree.

‼️ Initially, the Transfer Bridges Program was implemented with 3 community colleges in Michigan, the program is now expanding its reach to accommodate prospective transfer students from all 31 community colleges statewide. Our role is to investigate what issues might arise once they add more colleges


⁉️ How might we evaluate the current process and identify problems that may occur as the LSA Transfer Bridges Program scale up


Our usability evaluation consisted of 3 phases

⁉️Understand & Empathize

Literature Review
Contextual Interviews

πŸ’‘Analyze & Interpert

Interpretation sessions
Affinity Diagraming

βœ”οΈEvaluate & Prioritize

Final Consulting Report


01. To dig deeper into the problem and understand user's pain points, we conducted in depth literature review and user interviews

Literature Review

To become informed about LSA's pre transfer history as well as the affect of expanding the transfer bridges program can play in its agenda, our team conducted literature reviews. Specifically, we examined the similarities and differences of similars programs in other universities as well as the tools and methods used for enhancing the student transfer process from Institution to the other.

Contextual Interviews

Using our initial research, we compiled a set of questions for each role that plays part in the process: director, advisors, and students. We then used our questions to conduct seven interviews with LSA transfer bridges program stakeholders four staff members and 3 transfer students.In each interview, at least two members of our team were present.

Each member took on the role as either a notetaker or moderator/interviewer. Interviews lasted from 45 to 90 minutes. I led 4 interviews as the lead interviewer and notetaker. Each interview lasted about an hour. Following all interviews, our team held a debriefing session. Annotated notes from the interviews were shared amongst members via Google Drive.

Interviews insights

"We do a lot of email advising and that’s something is also time crushing"

β€œ I could see it expanding fast, but then being more superficial where a student doesn't feel that personal care ”

β€œ I always had personal attention from my advisor during my transfer process thats why my experience was very smooth”

02. To soak it all up we conducted Interpretation sessions following each interview then analyze all this data through affinity diagraming

Interpretation sessions

Upon completion of each user interview, we analyzed our findings together as a group. Following each interview, we reviewed each other’s annotated notes at meetings, debriefed with one another, and discussed our findings.Β 



Affinity diagraming

Our team conducted affinity diagramming using the KJ method to analyze and understand the relationship between various factors. The information gathered from interviews was documented as concise sentences on over 246 notes, which were then grouped into themes representing common trends or issues across all interviews.



This process took us 12 hours to complete. The team grouped the collected notes based on similarities and patterns, aiming to identify emerging trends and commonalities. Each group was labeled with a theme representing the main idea connecting the notes. Through iterative refinement, the clusters and themes were reviewed and adjusted as necessary. Finally, by analyzing the completed affinity diagram, the team extracted 6 key challenges and insights, which highlight the significant issues and obstacles expected during the expansion of the Transfer Bridges Program.

Affinity diagraming.

Key Research Findings

πŸ’‘Information & Communication Gap

Academic advisors have developed a multitude of tools and resources to assist students in their transfer journey. However, many students struggle to locate the appropriate tool that best suits their needs.

πŸ’‘Personalized Experience

Personalized 1:1 sessions with advisors, providing tailored guidance for each student, have a profound impact on the success of the transfer process.

πŸ’‘Manual Work

The manual handling of paperwork, email communication, and advising by staff requires significant effort and time investment.


03. Finally we conducted multiple brainstorming sessions to translate all our research findings into actionable recommendations

The Goal is to reduce repetition and manual work, to allow advisor to focus on personalizing the students' experience

During the brainstorming process, our focus was on finding solutions that would reduce repetition and manual work, allowing advisors to dedicate more time to students and improving overall workflow.

πŸ’‘ 01. Instructional Videos and Q&A section on the website

Instructional videos to address common inquiries and assist students in navigating the transfer process.

πŸ’‘02. Automated Informational Email

an automated informational email sent to students after they schedule an advising appointment, providing a comprehensive guide to online resources available on the LSA website, as well as additional relevant links to assist them in their transfer journey.

πŸ’‘03. Integrating an online appointment scheduling system

Managing and scheduling individual student information manually can become increasingly challenging as the program expands. To address this, implementing an online scheduling tool such as Calendly would streamline the pre-advising scheduling process

πŸ’‘04. Pre-advising Questionnaire

Implement a short questionnaire where students can indicate the reasons for their advising appointment and outline the specific topics or concerns they would like to discuss. This can be implemented through a scheduling softwares such as Calendly. This questionnaire provides structure to the session, helps advisors understand students' needs in advance, and directs students towards the areas they need assistance with.


πŸ“Œ Our client highly valued the importance of providing a personalized experience for students. As per our recommendation, they implemented a Q&A section on each College page, along with step-by-step instructions on how to contact the allocated adviser. This enhancement allowed users to access tailored information and support, resulting in a more engaging and personalized experience for prospective students
πŸ“Œ The implementation of a direct appointment scheduling system allowed students to book appointments with their allocated advisors without the need for email requests. This new feature also enabled advisors to gather more information about students through a pre-advising questionnaire, streamlining the advising process and enhancing communication between students and advisors.


πŸ“Œ During our interviews, we were actually surprised that two of the students we recruited didn't use the Transfer Bridges Program. It threw us off a bit because some of the questions we had prepared did not apply to them, as they transferred before the program started. But, we still managed to get some valuable insights by comparing their experiences with the current advising process. To avoid such issues in future projects, we've learned the importance of sending an onboarding survey before recruiting participants. This way, we can make sure we're getting the right users on board

πŸ“Œ Initially, I felt confident in the interview protocol questions I prepared with my team. However, as the interview progressed, I found myself needing to deviate from the planned questions frequently. I tried to remain composed and I adapted my approach, asking questions that were more relevant to the interviewee's experiences. I also ensured that it did not affect the overall flow and quality of the interview.