For my observation task I’ve decided to take a critical look at the Student Services Reception area in the college where I work. I visit this space a number of times over the course of each week day as I have to go through Reception to get to my workstation.
The student lifecycle is such that this space can sometimes be totally empty or overflowing with students. Early in the trimester there’s usually a lot going on and Reception is a hive of activity. Once the trimester is underway things quieten down a bit and Reception becomes much more manageable. Towards the end of the trimester after students have sat their exams Reception starts to get busy again with students coming in to talk to their lecturer about their results and/or view their exams. Anyhow, the problem is that Reception can and does get congested very quickly. Students come to Reception and wait their turn. However, other people need to go through Reception to get to some of the classrooms.
Students come up or down the stairs then walk through the glass doors. As soon as they walk through the doors they are the Reception area. The layout is such that students have to go through Reception to get to their class. In other words, sometimes you’ll have students who are on their way somewhere else but who have to go through Reception to get there. At the same time you’ll have other students are standing in line waiting to see someone from Student Services. As well as that, sometimes you’ll have groups of students standing in or near Reception just chatting.
The end result of all of this is that the Reception area can sometimes be a bit of a bottleneck with students who are trying to go through getting a little frustrated. I don’t know if this situation is intentional or not on the part of the college but it seems to me that it detracts from the user experience in the sense that students who are simply trying to get to class are being inconvenienced due to the location of Student Services Reception.
Across from Reception is the Student Lounge where students are encouraged to take the weight of their feet and relax between classes. From what I have seen this area is considerably underutilised by students. This space consists of a large wooden table and a number of chairs which are arranged around the table and along the wall. There are also a series of posters on the wall containing information about the modalities on offer including Nutritional Medicine, Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine.
The Reception area is little more than a large window in the wall with a computer just inside the window. Staff members from Student Services are rostered to sit in Reception and field queries from students when required. On either side of the window are stands that contain multiple copies of forms that students sometimes need to complete in order to vary their studies.
Having these forms on either side of the window is not necessarily a good idea since what invariably happens is that a student will come along and look through the stand not because they’re actually looking for something in particular but just because they’re there. In other words, the forms are a bit of a distraction since students see them then they come over to investigate.