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University students often struggle with choosing a topic for their final projects due to the lack of a supporting and defining framework for said selection. Should the student be oriented toward reflecting on how each of the possible topics to choose from can become an impactful project in the short, mid and long run, maybe that selection becomes a less anxious moment and the engagement with the project activities more relevant and meaningful to the student, being particularly pertinent when students can anticipate different levels of impact that range from their own life to a wider community.
In this paper a visual tool is proposed, aiming at simplifying the moment of choosing a project by matching its anticipated impact with the users’ motivations, capacities, ambitions, and perceptions of value. A prototype was designed and tested with a group of students enrolled at a creative master’s course, in a professionalization-led module, under the UK’s first 2020 lockdown restrictions. The tool proved helpful in supporting the students’ decision making when having to select a topic to be developed in the context of a communication design project, and to which they were able to align their personal interests, their career ambitions and the way they perceived themselves as contributing to a better world. Since this is a cyclical experience, both during a design learning environment, but also in design practice, the Impact Plan, which was conceived with design students in mind, configures as fully replicable in other academic (and professional) contexts too.