Activities for Research & Discovery
Help your students harness creative research techniques grounded in empathy, creative questioning and iteration.
Customer Discovery (primary research)
This exercise shows students the value of understanding the people who are affected by the topic they are researching.
Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen reveals that effective research seeks to challenge our assumptions, rather than confirm what we already think. Use this video as part of the customer discovery activity in the Entrepreneurial Thinking Toolkit.
Twenty One Toys founder Ilana Ben-Ari describes what she discovered about her company through conversations with her first customers. This video is a great complement to the customer discovery and pivoting activities in the Entrepreneurial Thinking Toolkit.
Revelo Electric Bikes founder Henry Chong describes the importance of testing his ideas with his customers early in the design process. A great illustration of the concepts in the customer discovery activity.
More applications for customer discovery activities:
- Introduce a research assignment: Start by asking: “Who is the intended audience for this project?” and “What do we know or assume about what this audience finds important?” Then have students use the materials above to find out more about this audience.
- Refine your lesson and activity designs: Interview your students about their reactions to the assignment they are working on. By making small changes to your approach based on what you hear in these interviews, you will model the customer discovery process and empower your students as collaborators in your class.
Customer Personas (primary research)
A natural companion to the customer discovery resources above, this exercise reinforces the importance of empathy in research.
More applications for customer persona activities:
- Gain deeper understanding of historical figures: For example, students create a persona for a serf during the middle ages or a sailor during the time of the Columbian Exchange. By considering the background, needs and motivations of figures from your course, students develop a more engaged relationship with the subject matter.
Market Research (secondary research)
This exercise helps students identify similar ideas to their own, and provides tips for representing this comparison visually.
More applications for competition matrix activities:
- Compare different academic concepts visually and succinctly: Students can design more robust arguments by coming up with criteria upon which to compare ideas. For example, a student could compare different philosophers based on their ideas about free will, the role of authority and the historical context in which those ideas were formed. Illustrating this comparison in a matrix emphasizes brevity and increases comprehension.