Assignment connects management students with real-world challenges around behaviour change
In creating campaigns around HIV/AIDS treatment for young people, teams of first year undergraduates drew on theory and practice to connect with the world
20 November 2017
In a first year assignment, management students were challenged to design, develop and deploy a viral advertising campaign targeting teenagers and young adults to prompt behavioural change with respect to HIV/AIDS medication consumption and social mores.
Jane Burns, Principal Teaching Fellow in the UCL School of Management, explains the aim of the assignment, and how it relates to UCL Connected Curriculum.
Why did you take this approach?
Marketing is a practitioner-led discipline where academic insight is often derived from observation and analysis of real world marketing programmes and consumer responses. Moreover, career success will often come from an ability to engage reflectively and constructively with the world around the practitioner, its problems, challenges and evolving social and technological environment.
By examining the barriers to effective communication, the assignment required students to engage in research and reflection into the issues, but also their personal model of the world and biases. They were then asked to develop a marketing campaign to raise awareness of the issues and overcome the barriers to effective communication of the campaign messages.
How did the assignment connect students to the real world?
In order to carry out the assignment successfully, the students needed to develop a clear understanding of the communications needs and channels frequented by their target ‘consumer’ group.
HIV/AIDS is an issue which is now largely understood and can be managed through public information programmes, training and medication. The only demographic group where death rates are not falling is teenagers and young persons. This group is largely composed of individuals who were born HIV positive because of maternal transmission and is typically a very difficult group to reach through traditional communications channels and media.
Adolescence brings hormonal, physiological and social changes, when combined with reluctance to take medication and combined with the social difficulties of confronting their status, can bring deadly outcomes. Health awareness programmes directed at young people are often patronising and ‘telling’ in tone, resulting in a low level of resonance and recall by the target group. Yet there are some exceptionally good examples of campaigns which have had a profound and long lasting impact.
How was the assignment assessed?
The 140-strong class of undergraduates worked in groups of five, and the assignment was worth 20% of the module.
A further 5% of the module marks were allocated for peer assessed team working.
The written report was assessed on the depth and relevance of the research work undertaken, the application of key areas of theory and models to the issues highlighted, the development of meaningful targeted messaging and the practicality of the proposed campaign.
The videos were assessed in relation to the delivery of the targeted messages (not the production quality).
What dimensions of the Connected Curriculum did the work embody?
- Dimension 3: students make connections across subjects and out to the world
- Dimension 4: students connect academic learning with workplace learning
- Dimension 5: students learn to produce outputs – assessments directed at an audience
The final element of the assignment connected specifically to Dimension 5: the students were tasked with producing a short video for dissemination through a variety of digital channels, which would have the potential to become ‘viral’ in its reach and impact. Some pithy, highly professional and different pieces of video work were produced, including:
One Night Stand
Take your medication
To what extent did students engage with the assignment?
Student feedback on the course frequently mentioned the assignment:
‘Quite intellectually stimulating’
‘The best part .... was interacting with different peers in creating the coursework’,
‘The best part is the course content and the practical aspect of the coursework gives the student a real insight in the world of marketing’
‘interesting and challenging, as well as allowing us to be creative’
‘The group coursework allowed me to be creative in an artistic way. What more could you ask for?’
‘the best part of the course was the coursework. this is because i really enjoy getting involved in these type of things, working in groups to create a viral advert.