Co-researcher coordination

Collaborative learning with the co-researchers

The co-researchers and the WPI project teams worked hand-in-hand to contribute to project development. The four co-researchers were the gateway into the community for many teams. They were also the reason our project was able to continue after we left. Nodumo and Anele are running the community photo initiative .

Coordinating with WPI teams

At the start of the project, we organized an ice-breaker activity between the WPI teams and the co-researchers. While this may seem like a minor footnote to some, it was actually extremely important. The culture barrier that each team had to cross to make contact with co-researchers cannot be overstated. The co-researchers also had a cultural barrier to cross to fully trust us. If there had not been a good working relationship between our team and the co-researchers, there would have been very little sustainability or progress in our project work. Once project work commenced on a daily basis, we made sure a co-researcher was available if a team needed assistance and also encouraged the co-researchers to become involved with the teams regularly.

Working on storyboardDeveloping practical skills

The co-researchers were very important to our project because some of them are charged with running the photoshop. In anticipation of this, we sought to help them develop critical skills such as typing, presentation, and the use of a digital camera. We had to train them to use the specific camera and photo printer we purchased to be used at the photo shop.  They took pictures based on their storyboards and captioned them to further their thinking on how to present.

At the celebration day, the co-researchers were able to use all of the skills they had learned to put together a photo presentation for the community and others in attendance about the WPI projects and the work they accomplished. The celebration day was also the first full day the new photo shop was operational. They are using their camera skills to continue the operation of the photo shop.

Analysis and Conclusions

The co-researcher programme worked very well this year. At first, the co-researchers were shy while talking to a group of students. As time went on, co-researchers became more comfortable with every project team and meaningful relationships were formed. We interacted very well as a team and individually. They taught us a lot about community members and challenges facing them. They also were the ones who convinced us to pursue the college assessment exams and the community photo shop initiative. There were some times when teams would not need co-researchers very much, but that just gave us more time to train them in skills to make the photo shop sustainable . They were very quick to pick up specific skills we wanted to teach and were a valuable and essential part of the WPI projects.


The co-researcher programme should continue as currently operated. Four co-researchers allow teams to utilize them if needed, but also gives a lot of time for training. The Economy Team hired two separate co-researchers to help run their sewing centre prototype, and we believe this protocol should be followed in the future to hire extra co-researchers. At the start of the term, it was originally planned for there to be eight co-researchers. There was an abundance of downtime with just four and adding more would not add much to the project effort. Having four general co-researchers to be utilized by all teams and managed by the communications team is favorable. Only if a team has a need to train co-researchers for their project specific purposes should the co-researcher programme expand to incorporate more co-researchers.

The co-researchers were very knowledgeable and passionate about the community and its redevelopment. Co-researchers should all share these qualities, and also a firm grasp on English. The only real problem we faced dealing with co-researchers was their occasional shyness. This should not be unexpected when dealing closely with new people. As soon as they were comfortable enough to answer questions, they were paramount in our efforts. The co-researchers were reliable and valuable teammates during our work in Monwabisi Park.