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University of Michigan School of Information


Civic User Testing (CUT) Group

Citizen-Based Research Volunteering

Proposal open date: June 1
Proposal close date: Clients accepted on a rolling basis
Project timeline: Clients accepted on a rolling basis
Project duration: 3 weeks
Number of projects needed: 3
Note: This program runs in both the fall and winter semester. We are recruiting projects for both iterations of the program.


In the Civic User Testing (CUT) Group program, students work with city residents to test whether public websites, apps and other information services are useful to them. Students then provide recommendations to improve public platforms’ usability. These platforms may include tools for mapping, open data, government forms, issue reporting and other forms of civic engagement. The CUTgroup model aims to include citizens in the creation of the tools designed for their use by applying “build-with” approach. CUTgroup’s motto is, “If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work!”


  • User Testing Report identifying the main challenges users encounter in using the tool and related recommendations on how to address those challenges in the design of the tool

Client Requirements 

  • Level of engagement for course/program 
    • Regular feedback and communication to student team based on the course schedule
    • Attend weekly progress meetings
    • Introduction to stakeholders and users for interviews and/or data gathering
    • Access to organizational data, systems and/or resources necessary to project completion
    • Recruit user testers 
    • Provide space for the testing event
    • Attend final presentation
    • Complete project evaluation
  • Special requirements for the course/program 
    • Project deals with usability of public apps
    • Must be a public sector organization

Past Projects

  • Helping Cities Better Serve Their Citizens. Students partnered with the City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department to address the website for kayaking and canoeing trips which was confusing for many users.
  • Testing the Detroit Assistant Tool. Students worked with Data Driven Detroit and the City of Detroit to design, execute and report on a usability test of the Detroit Assistant, a voice interface tool that runs on Google Home and Google Assistant.

Contact us

Engaged Learning Office | [email protected] | (734) 763-1251

Please complete this form to submit a project proposal for one of our client-based courses or other programs, or to receive information about these opportunities throughout the year.