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University of Michigan School of Information


Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations - SI 501

Information Process Analysis

Proposal open date: June 1
Proposal close date: August 2
Project timeline: September-December 
Project duration: 15 weeks 
Number of projects needed: 120

SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations Syllabus


In SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations, master’s-level graduate students identify, analyze and make recommendations to improve a process or service related to information tools. Using qualitative research methodology to engage with clients, students will complete six semi-structured interviews and then will analyze the interview content to make recommendations.


  • Written report with key findings and recommendations
  • Final presentation

Client Requirements 

  • Level of engagement for course/program 
    • Primary contact should be available for at least two one-hour meetings, one at the beginning and one at the end of the semester 
    • Regular feedback and communication via email to student team based on the course schedule
    • Introduction to stakeholders and users for interviews and/or data gathering
    • Access to organizational data, systems and/or resources necessary to project completion
    • Attend final presentation
    • Complete project evaluation
  • Special requirements for the course/program 
    • Have a product, service, information process or communication process already in place that needs repair or improvement
    • Primary contact must provide and help students connect to at least six relevant people willing to be interviewed for 60-90 minutes by the student team in September-November
      • The interviewees should represent at least three different perspectives on the process (i.e. manager, front line staff, customer, or librarian, supervisor, patron)
    • Accept that recommendations are the final deliverable for this course; understand and agree that no implementation is done by students

Past Projects

  • Assessing Call Abandonment. Students reviewed a health clinic's telephone queue and voicemail system to assess why call abandonment rates are so high and provided recommendations.
  • Public Library Integration. Students explored how a public library's process to acquire and sort materials among its three branches could be integrated and streamlined and provided recommendations.
  • Engaging Resume-Posting Users. Students investigated how an online job-matching company could improve retention and engagement of its resume-posting users.

Client Testimonials

  • "The students brought a professional approach and enthusiasm to the question of how to organize and catalog our small library with the goal of increasing usage. They conducted interviews with five other persons, who all gave me feedback as to how thoughtful they were. Their final report was thorough and well-researched, and presented a number of suggestions for us to consider."
  • "The student team helped us identify a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that seems to be a better fit for our organization's needs, along with recommendations for best practices once it's implemented. This will help free up a lot of organizational capacity, particularly for myself."

Past Clients

Contact us

Engaged Learning Office | | (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.