View Project Overview

Design Research 2 • Autumn 2020

2–3 weeks • November 2020

Project Type
Design Research, Design Education

InDesign, Illustrator
01 Problem • noun • a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.
The objective of this project was to create a co-design research plan. This plan must be comprehensive enough that a design researcher could be given it and complete it based on the plan alone.
The purpose was to gain a better understanding of the co-design research process. This was done by completely laying out a design research plan. Each of my classmates was given this individual project and asked to come up with a specific topic of research. For my research plan, I wanted to do something that I had an interest in and also felt could be implemented in a real world setting. My topic was to look at how to optimize hybrid learning within design education. This plan consisted of secondary research, detailed forethought, various research methods, a 12-month schedule (research team), and a 4-month schedule (participants).
The goal for this project was to come out of the class with a deep depth and breadth of understanding in design research. Not only in practice but also in planning.

Looking at understanding past/current experiences (do/say/make) and exploring future experiences (telling, enacting, making).

02 Research • verb • investigate systematically.
What Makes a Good Research Plan?
When researching for a design research project, it could be seen as daunting. That is because as soon as you refer to it as research, you start getting into the realm of fact, detailed explanation, and uncovering something new. Taking on research, you need to become an expert. Becoming the expert in something can be tricky because you then set the high expectation to call yourself the expert.
I took this all into account when I began my research. I wanted to dive in headfirst and have the confidence to be the expert. Strong background research and plenty of confidence can help propel you forward in your study, which is what I employed during this project.
I wanted to look at what had been done before and take it a step further. The image on the right column shows how I went about this. To build on top of what had already been done before, I took into account what previous students had done. I analyzed what these students included in their plans and what I wanted to include in mine.
In the end, I was able to include every element mentioned in each of the previous student's research plans. This allowed me to cover every detail when constructing my plan and it made the plan feel that much more realistic. In the end, I felt confident I could facilitate this study.​​​​​​​

Research plan component checklist.

03 Brainstorm • verb • produce an idea or way of solving a problem by holding a spontaneous group discussion.
The first step in this process was to come up with an idea. I originally had no clear direction I wanted to go. Then I recalled a note I had made on my phone a few months prior.
I was listening to a design youtube video that brought together design educators (traditional design education and non-traditional). Several points made in the video piqued my interest and made me wonder...
...specifically within design education. These design educators from a variety of perspectives and levels of experience brought up several intriguing points for both online and in-person. Their discussion led me to make a few notes on my phone to add on as I continue through my current courses (which were hybrid-approach). I ended up revisiting this note and deciding that this is the direction I wanted to take for my research plan.
04 Create • verb • to produce through imaginative skill.
This project was unique in that it wasn't the same process as my past design projects. This project was primarily text-based, so I had to take a slightly different approach when going about creating this plan. Although the project was very text-heavy, I still needed to find ways of incorporating purposeful design decisions into the project.
If my research plan wasn't designed, it would be perceived as boring and wouldn't have the same visual impact. Adding colors and pictograms allow for more visual interest that could keep a design researcher or designer interested. I wanted to keep it subtle and allow the research and planning to take center stage and allow the visuals to be the second tier in importance and hierarchy.
I went with yellow and off-black because I wanted to choose a color scheme that related to school/education (school bus colors). The choice of using an off-black and less-vibrant yellow was to allow for easier screen reading. A harsh black or vibrant yellow on-screen could cause strain when being read. To counteract this I went with slight variations of the colors to allow for a more enjoyable reading experience. The contrast of the two colors allows for emphasis to be made and for the eye to be guided throughout the composition.

Initial note that sparked my interest in this topic.

05 Test • verb • take measures to check the quality, performance, or reliability of (something), especially before putting it into widespread use or practice.
Another first for this project when compared to others was testing. There weren't formal critiques with my peers as so many of my past projects had. This was due in large part that it was an individual project and would be submitted directly to my professor for feedback. Liz Sanders taught this course and is extremely knowledgable in the realm of design research, generative design, and co-design. Her expertise allows for plenty of feedback and growth to be made. She also had a graduate TA assisting her throughout the process who provided feedback as well throughout the process.
06 Improve • verb • make or become better.
While working on this project, I was constantly referencing different forms of feedback and inspiration. Not only was I working with my professor and class TA, but I was able to get critiques from my peers. Alongside this project, we had a group research project with similar parameters and elements. With this overlap, I was able to take away points found in my group project and apply them to my project.
I was also able to look at previous examples of individual co-design plans. This was helpful because it allowed me to analyze what has been done in the past. This analysis helped me determine what has worked in the past, and what I felt fell short. Based on this, I was able to create a strong plan for how I'd like my research plan to look and operate.

Detailed descriptions of all 5 research methods. These would be utilized to collect data from participants.

07 Solution • noun • an answer to a problem.
At the end of the semester, I was able to look back in awe at how much I had grown as a design researcher. Going in I wasn't the most eager for this class. I hadn't enjoyed design research up until this semester and felt like it wasn't something I wanted to get into. I felt like I understood the importance of it, but I didn't personally enjoy it.
This view completely changed after this class and project. Every step of the process I thoroughly enjoyed and felt confident doing. After completing this project I can confidently say that this is an area of design I would like to work more in as I continue to grow as a designer. A big part of this change of view was in part to my professor fostering an environment of creativity and problem-solving. For that, I thank Liz Sanders for aiding in my journey.
Back to Top