Jordan Williams Compass

  • Tauira / Student
    Jordan Williams
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Anke Nienhuis, Dermot McInerney

As a young university student, I have seen social anxiety restrict one’s capacity to achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. As a young person, I have seen it corrode one’s drive to think and dream. Research has shown that 25.8% of university students experience social anxiety with 10.5% of that group suffering severe symptoms (Anwar, 2022). Even with many tertiary institutions implementing therapeutic services, research reveals that the issue has not been with implementation, but execution.
Social anxiety disorder is treated through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Facilitated by an expert, CBT is a learning experience that equips people with the preparatory practical and mental skills to manage anxiety episodes. It reframes how people think, feel, and behave about their own thoughts and emotions.
My primary concern is with the conventional medium through which learning is facilitated. Young people are far more practically and collaboratively inclined learners, shown to excel in periodically-structured educational programmes. CBT conventionally takes a long consultation-based approach to learning, which for young people is severely unengaging.
I was moved when an opportunity presented itself to reimagine the educational CBT experience at university for students of all social anxiety levels so that it meets their learning needs and can be performed in a safely facilitated on-campus environment.
Compass is an educational toolkit about how our thoughts and emotions move to the rhythm of our social environments. It translates the verbal therapeutic process into a practical and collaborative learning journey that develops the skills within users to overcome social and personal challenges.
Designed for two participants, Compass comprises of sequential mini-activities that circulate in and out of each other around a circular wooden board. The aim is for participants to have moved fluidly around the board, coming closer until they reach the middle together – the centre of understanding.
The first activity is all about capturing observed experiences. Participants individually describe their unique thoughts, feelings, and actions during various student-related scenarios depicted on the outer tiles. An emotive avatar is then selected to capture that abstract feeling before being placed on the corresponding emotion depicted on the board.
The second activity is all about inference and collaborative practice. Participants will work together to complete various hypothetical social tasks as depicted on the flip side of each scenario tile. After discussing as a team what the best course of action should be, each participant selects their own emotive avatar to place together over the agreed-upon emotion.
The final activity is all about reflection. Participants come together at the centre of the board to complete their learning story. Using the emotive avatars amongst very open-ended dialogue, users might discuss what their journey has taught them. What have I learnt about perspectives during each activity? Have I come full circle?
This learning experience can be shared with a friend, a trusted role-model, or anyone else wishing to take the first step towards restoring their drive for thinking, dreaming, and accomplishing.