Cultural Probe

Our Cultural Probes

The goal of our cultural probes was to be able to get better insight in what kind of budget students in higher education in Norway have. The users of our probes are students, as earlier mentioned. We wanted to be able to see if there is something that could be done in helping these students managing their budgets, or if there was a need for more or better information regarding the topic.

We thought our probes could help us with this by giving us a first-hand look at their budgets, and how they’re managing it. It would also give us information in their habits, such as how many times they take a taxi or go to the cinema. We wanted to see if there is help needed in managing their budgets, or if they are managing fine with this on their own.

We made three cultural probes. The first probe was two different boxes, and some sticky notes. The goal here was to write down their last buys and put them in the different boxes. One box for necessary buys and one box for unnecessary buys.

The second probe was a tracker, with the goal of crossing off for how many times they for example, go to a restaurant, go to the movies, take a taxi or go shopping. They would then have to put a sticker with either a happy face, or a sad face, depending on how good the activity was. Could it be avoided? Or was it necessary?

The third and final probe was a cardboard “phone”. Here the user is supposed to take a picture of something they want, but cannot afford. They were supposed to send a picture of this to one of our phone numbers. The goal here is to be able to see if their goal is realistic, or achievable with a better managed budget. We want to know if we can make a solution to help them with this.

The results from our probes shows that many students actually need help in managing their budgets, and it might not be that they just don’t have enough money, but that they actually don’t know how to manage them. We saw that a correlation between the students, that many of them go to the store almost every day, instead of just buying groceries for the entire week. Several of them also use a lot of money on small buys, such as take-out and shopping. We have seen earlier in our expert interviews that information from the right instances, such as banks, do not reach the students. There are many helpful services out there, but the students don’t know about these, and therefore do not have the opportunity to get guidance from them. Could the students manage their budgets better, with more guidance and/or information?