Design Research Methods

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation Core: SDE2SD1144

Semester and Year Offered: Semester 1 (Monsoon)

Course Coordinator and Team: Nakkeeran Nanjappan

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

Research is the foundation for any type of design intervention and problem solving process. A course in Design Research Methods will provide knowledge and understanding by introducing them the various design research methods, how to apply them to design problems, how to define insights from the research data and effectively communicate the results of research. This course will include lectures, case studies, discussions and field work. Throughout the course the students will be introduced to a variety of methods and tools used during for the pre and during research process. The class will discuss the process one follows for conducting research such as selecting research sites, Sampling (participants map and profiling), and interacting with study subjects. The methods and tools will include Mind mapping, Defining research objectives, Questionnaire, Interviews, Contextual enquiry/interviews, Surveys, Shadowing, Card Sorting, Focus group, and Experience simulations etc. The class will also introduce examples of each of these methods, and review the circumstances that are appropriate for each method. 
This course will also include how to analyse and synthesise the information and data. This will include Scenario and Personas building, Affinity diagram, Empathy mapping, Entities positioning map, Journey/Experience mapping, User Response Mapping, ERAF System Diagram etc. and how to effectively communicate research findings and insights.


Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand why research is important for any kind of design intervention or design solution.
  2. Understand and evaluate a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies related to design research and practice and know which of these tools and methods be best suited in different context and circumstances during the research process.
  3. Acquire data visualization skills and competently use visual representation tools such us Scenario and Personas building, Affinity diagram, Empathy mapping, Entities positioning map, ERAF System Diagram etc. in a range of situations.
  4. Have the ability to translate research findings into design proposals.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1

The course will begin with some classroom but interactive sessions (three classes) to explain the research process and scope, types (Primary & Secondary and Qualitative &Quantitive) of research, samplng methods, user profiling etc. as well as various research tools and methods (excluding observation, visual ethnography, observations etc.). 

Module 2

The course will then move into some hands-on exercises to provide some practical understanding related to each of tools including brainstorming, surveys, interviews, experiment design, etc. The students will be asked to go out in the field to apply the and gain confidence in using the tools. These hands-on exercises will be designed around some context and appropriate setting will be selected for the field visits. 

Module 3

The course will then introduce the tools to analyse and drive the insights and patterns from the collected data and information. 

Module 4

The course will end with the documentation the whole process and reflecting on the understanding as well as how the research can be actionzed into brief which can be taken forward to the design phase.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Regular assessment based on classroom exercises and field assignments - 30%
  • Classroom discussions and reflection sessions - 20 %
  • A major assessment towards the end of the semester including final presentation and documentation communicating the scope, methods, tools, data collection and analysis and research findings -30%
  • End- semester jury- 20%

Reading List:

  1. 101 Design Methods: A Structure Approach for Driving Innovation in your organisation, by Prof. Vijay Kumar
  2. Creswell, J. W. 2013. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
  3. Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics Paperback (2013) by Andy Field 

  4. IDEO Tool Kit 

  5. Research Methods For Everyday Life Blending Qualitative and Quantitative 
Approaches, Scott W. VanderstoepDanderstoep Deirdre d. Johnston, Sage 

Additional Reference: