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NTU students tackle barriers to recycling through crowd research

NTU students were invited to participate in a one-day crowd research workshop, exploring the effectiveness of current recycling methods across the University’s City Campus.

Crowd Research

In November 2019, following the the success of a similar workshop in 2018, Dr Daniel Shin, Senior Product Design Lecturer at NTU, led a cohort of over 100 undergraduates to explore and research around the topic by using the ‘power of the crowd’.

This method is used to conduct a significant body of research in a short amount of time, allowing all people taking part to make an important contribution to the investigation.

For the second year running, the University collaborated with Enva, a provider of public sector waste services to Nottingham City Council.

Experts from the organisation were on hand to support with the challenges that arose, including practical elements such as identifying the difference between recyclable and non-recyclable packaging.

A set of predefined research questions were assigned to each group to kick-off the activity, encouraging students to think about the barriers to recycling correctly and how these could be resolved.

Students working on crowd research project

Preliminary research was then undertaken, through reading existing publications, participating in group discussions and designing data collection methods.

The group then took to the University’s City Campus to collect data using a variety of research techniques, including conducting interviews, using surveys and questionnaires and observing recycling behaviour, before presenting their findings and proposed solutions to Enva and NTU Product Design lecturers.

Dr Daniel Shin commented: “We have once again observed the dynamic power of the crowd – our students have created a range of innovative proposals to improve recycling behaviour on campus. These solutions are well informed by the research which was done in just a day."

The project helped increase awareness of issues surrounding the environment, contributing to NTU’s sustainability agenda

Findings from crowd research project

Amy Owens, a Final Year BA (Hons) Product Design student, said: “The crowd research project was a fantastic opportunity for like-minded people to come together and explore an important topic that is so prevalent in society today.

“It was a chance for us to discuss recycling, compare findings and learn something new about how we can further help the environment by recycling correctly. We explored how we could further ensure recycling is a topic of discussion; implementing schemes, better advertising and education.”

The workshop also encouraged students to gain confidence in their research skills and help develop their experience.

Alice Pace, also currently a Final Year student on NTU’s BA (Hons) Product Design course, said: “The product design crowd research gave me an insight of a variety of research techniques and how different types of observations can show different results.

“The task of using string to link my findings to other groups findings showed us how there will always be a clear link within different results found. The variety of research techniques discussed at the end with other groups gave me numerous primary and secondary research methods that I could use within my design dissertation.”

NTU’s crowd research team are making plans to expand their annual workshop to NTU’s Clifton and Brackenhurst campuses for future events, with the view to increase participation from the wider student community.

Published on 30 November 2019
  • Subject area: Architecture and civil engineering
  • Category: Culture; Current students; Research; Staff; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment