Pathway to Purpose

About the Entry

The project brought together students, youth workers, employment agencies, the Lands Council and people with expertise in teaching, curriculum and policy to work on improving the engagement, learning experience and lifelong purpose and employment outcomes of students who have experienced long term disengagement from school and work.

Features & Benefits


Designed with not for students to better understand themselves

ThinkPlace led a co-design project with the Aboriginal Learning Circle at New England TAFE and representatives from the connected system to gain a deeper understanding into the experience of students who have been disengaged from the education system since early primary school and ultimately empower students to understand their interests and strengths to help them find purpose for their learning, leading to intrinsic engagement. The project approach was co-designed with representatives from across the system to ensure participants felt like equal partners in collecting and making sense of their own stories.

User experience at the heart of making sense of problems

We listened to 17 stories and visually mapped the stories to allow collective insight generation. The insights were used to re-frame the design challenge and generate design questions. This led to the articulation of a transformed future experience and the identification of strategies to improve student engagement. A twelve-month plan outlining projects to be carried out across the system was developed to align vision and action across the whole system.

Sustainable capability building

The primary object of this project was to build capability to enable the community to do their own sensing and making sense of needs and to co-design their own tool for collecting authentic, meaningful intelligence.This approach resulted in the design and implementation of new engagement methods by the community to be used by TAFE and by other stakeholders.

The valued delivered

Value was generated at three levels: firstly, the project built capacity for participants to conduct exploratory interviews and co-design. Secondly, empathy interviews build a shared understanding of student’s real experience across the system. And thirdly, the project developed new innovative approaches to knowing and engaging current and prospective students. This project shifted the focus of collecting evidence about student interests and needs, to a process co-designed by students, helping students understand their own strengths and recognise barriers. It allows them to see where they are on their own journey, so they are more empowered to make informed and supported choices.

Recognising the wisdom of experience

The new principles of engagement recognise the wisdom of experience to inform the design of meaningful courses and peer to peer learning. New co-designed curriculum will include a course that builds positive resilience that will be rich in story, language and concepts and informed by multiple perspectives on cultural identity. We envision a future where shared vision and ownership of goals exist within an engaged system working together. A future where values and approaches are shared by listening, acting and validating.

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Pathway to Purpose