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High School Stories from Little Havana Project

Project type

Qualitative Design Based Research Field Study


Co Principle Investigator

The High School Stories from Little Havana Project is an innovative multiliteracies project about migration from both local and global perspectives using data visualization tools in a high school classroom and supported by resources from a university heritage archive. The assembly and sharing of human migration stories are powerful tools for learning. The telling of family histories supports new understandings about family heritage and consequently fosters feelings of belonging, cultivates shared understandings and empathy across communities, and supports critical reflections on identity. Leveraging cultural artifacts from the heritage archive together with interactive, digital media supported compelling and impactful storytelling in the language arts classroom and beyond.

Through this project, we provided diverse youth access to digital tools to support collaborative meaning-making to engage them in storytelling centered around a narrative of personal and community migration. As students wove their personal narratives about migration, they also highlighted the ecological relationship between the micro and macro level causes of the phenomena.

The project (1) fostered student driven, culturally and linguistically rich learning experiences that incorporated cultural heritage artifacts into the creation of multimedia digital stories; (2) provided students with the opportunity to place their unique perspectives into the national and global discourse on family migration; and (3) supported the development of novel curricular materials for using primary archives to support learning about migration narratives. This process resulted in students: (1) developing more nuance and depth of their understanding of their family and community’s experiences of migration; (2) learning how to use tools to develop evidence supported positions and engage in culturally relevant, self-directed investigations upon completion of the project; and (3) developing skills to create impactful multimedia projects in support of students literacy learning.

From a UXR Perspective

This exploratory pilot research and development project examined the interactions and experiences of adolescents using data visualization interfaces and tools to create georeferenced maps of their lives and communities. It served as a pilot study and as such only consisted of one development cycle beginning with persona creation, moving through implementation, and then leveraging data analysis to provide actionable recommendations for future development. My team and I worked with end user site administrators, cultural heritage archivists, and field observations to authentically develop user stories to guide product development. We took a qualitative approach to understanding adolescent users’ experiences with data visualization mapping tools and multimodal composing platforms. We recorded real time user interactions with the devices, including screen captures from the devices' interfaces. We interviewed the users to gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives and experiences. We also analyzed the products they created with the devices.

We approached my analysis from a user centric perspective, starting our analysis with interview data of users' perspectives, rather than starting with external observations. We then triangulated users' perceptions with recordings of their interactions and their compositions (including planning documents, rough layouts, and final products).

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