A participant completing a timeline



Project 1: Observation (15%)

Students will be prompted to carry out a participant/user observation exercise. For this, students will have to immerse themselves in a given situation (TBD) and develop fine observation skills to spot things that usually go unnoticed. Through this project, students should start noticing the interaction of humans, the built environment, behaviors and motivations of the participants, use of language, among others. Students will have to properly document and share back their findings and insights.

Project 2: Probes (25%)

In this project, students will work in pairs to design and test a cultural probe intended to reveal something about the user’s personal context. Cultural probes often make people reflect on things they do and don’t really think about them. Students will be prompted to develop and design a specific probe to learn something about new about a specific design inquiry. A well designed probe will give us rich information and insight that might be hard to obtain from more traditional research methods such as interviews or surveys. Students will have to document the entire process of designing the probe, facilitating its use, and what insights they were able to get from it.

Project 3: Research plan (40%)

For the final project, students will be asked to strategize and develop a research plan for a specific design inquiry. This project will be carried out in groups. Each group will have to develop a plan considering the different stages of the design process; as each stage requires different research methods to gain or validate specific information. This project will be speculative in nature, but students should make informed decisions about what methods they chose and why (what do these methods afford and allow for and what are the benefits of using them instead of other alternatives). Each group will have to document their process and justify what methods were chosen and how they work as a process and what expected outcomes they want to get from each of the methods.

Blog post/article on guest speakers (15%)

We will have a series of guest lectures from design researchers and practitioners, students will have to submit either a blog post or an article that captures highlights from the lectures. We would like students to compare and analyze different methods used by the speakers and assess the benefits or trade-offs of each one.

Engagement and participation (5%)

Show up, be prepared, engage with your colleagues’ perspectives with respect, and make this class what you want it to be.