Look EAST: how to generate ideas from behavioural insights

How do we find the hidden gems and human insights that will help us make a student’s experience better?

Student journeys in the Higher Education sector are rich in behavioural insights, with high points, low points and everything in-between, from the moment a learner starts to explore their options, through to application, orientation, study experiences, graduation and beyond into the workplace.

At each key touchpoint, learners may be expected or encouraged to take specific actions for a successful, positive experience. In a typical student journey, examples might include:

  • Discovery (contact us; explore courses; apply; accept offer; enrol)
  • Preparation for study (pay fees; complete forms; come to orientation; read information)
  • During study (attend class; submit assignment; do group work; re-enrol next semester)

For teams tasked with improving student experience, the variety of potential actions can be overwhelming. The pressure to ‘solve’ troublesome touchpoints can mean a frenzy of post-it notes, promotion of pet projects or simply the loudest, most confident-sounding concepts getting all the airtime.

So how can we push beyond basic brainstorming to generate new ideas based on authentic human insights?

Introducing the EAST framework

The EAST framework was created in 2010, to spread understanding of behavioural approaches across the policy community. There are heaps of interesting frameworks to explore for innovation, but the beauty here lies in the simplicity, and in the creativity that can spring from a little framework discipline.

As you can see in the mind map below, EAST suggests exploring solutions through four different lenses: Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely. Have the patience to work through each in turn, squeezing every last idea you can from each lens – then marvel at how many new solutions have sprung up!

Evaluate, iterate and look EAST again

Once you have your solutions, you can take them to your target audience, test them and analyse the results. Which direction did most of the successful ideas come from? Did people go for solutions which spoke to the power of community influence (‘Social’), or the options that took as much hassle and friction from an experience as possible (‘Easy’). Was it what you expected?

If you’ve used the EAST framework to generate and test innovative ideas, I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t, give it a try next time you’re faced with a blank piece of paper in a behavioural brainstorm. Good luck!

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