A Cengage Learning research project to better understand the students of today — and tomorrow
21 Voices is a research program conducted by Cengage Learning to help the company’s employees understand and empathize with college students in order to gain insights into their daily lives. Such insights help the employees design and deliver products that both engage and delight students.
Twenty-one students participate in 21 Voices across the United States. They are drawn from different regions, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and they represent a mix of different majors, as well as academic and extracurricular interests. What distinguishes 21 Voices is that it is not focused on the development of a specific new product but is, rather, focused on the end-to-end lives of the students involved, with the intention of discovering new opportunities to help students succeed.
Students are paired with Cengage researchers to do weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly activities.
Each week, student participants conduct a self-report activity such as writing a blog, drawing their day, taking pictures of their environment, or a variety of other activities that help them describe or illustrate their lives. The students send these materials on to their researchers.
Program researchers conduct a monthly call or video chat with student participants to discuss the student submissions and ask follow up questions or explore topics of interest. Students also participate in intermittent surveys so that researchers can more deeply explore emerging themes.
On a quarterly basis, the researchers visit the students to spend a day with them, observing their lives. Researchers visit students at different times to observe periods of interest such as the first week of class, the middle of the semester, the week of finals, etc.
Student participants attend an annual summit with the research team to share findings.
Fifty years ago, documentary filmmakers tracked the lives of a group of seven-year-old school students drawn from a variety of different backgrounds. It began in 1964 with a documentary called 7Up, and a new documentary about the group’s lives has been produced every seven years since.
That project was the inspiration for Cengage's 21 Voices program. The Up series is a film project, of course, whereas 21 Voices is a research project based on self-reporting and observation. But while details may differ, the overall goal of 21 Voices is the same as that of the film that provided its inspiration: get to know students better than anyone else, thereby deriving unique insights into their daily lives.
We have closed the 21 Voices application process for the 2014/2015 academic year. We will begin taking applications for the 2015/2016 academic year in March of 2015. Thank you for your interest!