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Representing the Unseen with “Our Journey”: a Platform to Capture Affective Experiences and Support Emotional Awareness in University-Level Study

Coughlan, T., Lister, K. & Lucassen, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6958-3468 (2021). Representing the Unseen with “Our Journey”: a Platform to Capture Affective Experiences and Support Emotional Awareness in University-Level Study. Journal of Formative Design in Learning, 5(1), pp. 39-52. doi: 10.1007/s41686-021-00055-9


Student mental health is a critical issue that institutions are struggling to tackle proactively. The wellbeing of students is largely invisible to institutions unless specific mental health conditions are diagnosed and disclosed. In comparison to the importance placed on academic aspects, the affective experiences of education throughout the study journeys of students are rarely acknowledged. Approaches for students to develop emotional awareness, through which they learn to understand and manage their emotions, are limited. In this article, we describe the design and evaluation ofOur Journey, a platform for students to represent their study journeys through describing the events and emotions they experience. The conceptual and user experience design of the platform was derived from participatory activities with students and staff and has been further refined via several physical and online iterations. In this paper, we report findings from an exploratory pilot trial ofOur Journeywith 54 students studying for a range of qualifications at an online learning institution. Through an analysis of the journeys that the students produced and a post-trial survey, we found thatOur Journeycan support representations of emotional awareness in relation to study events which prompted students to reflect on important aspects of their study and personal development. The design and use of the platform have also prompted important considerations around how emotion is represented, as well as how the privacy and ownership of these representations of personal experiences can be managed to support students and institutions to potentially benefit from novel tools such as Our Journey.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Student experience, Mental health, Reflection, Evaluation, Online learning
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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