Abstract

This paper discusses a pilot study into whether the introduction of the concept of the ‘Other’ (after Said 1991) is useful in broadening the conceptual understanding and empathy of first year industrial design students and thus move them away from a position of an ‘I methodology’ of design. The concept was introduced via a lecture delivered to Coventry University students and impact was measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis 1980). A research group (who received the lecture) and a control group (who did not) completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) over a three-week period. Students were also tasked with choosing a ‘persona’ most like themselves from specially developed ‘persona’ cards. Analysis showed that although the students scored more highly on three IRI subscales in terms of averages, a mean score analysis produced inconclusive results. However, there were indications that the concept of the ‘Other’ did have an impact on the research group in terms of persona card choices, in that this group was more likely to step outside gender boundaries. Therefore the findings from this pilot study proved inconclusive in determining whether the concept of the ‘Other’ had a positive impact on design students’ conceptual understanding and empathy towards the end user, and thus it is not possible to assess whether it can enhance their ability to move away from a position of ‘I methodology’ design. Nonetheless, the pilot study did highlight the need for a more rigorous research framework, in that more emphasis is needed to both develop the concept of empathy as it pertains to design students and, perhaps, the concomitant development of a ‘bespoke’ measurement tool, coupled with a more targeted approach to student participation.

Keywords

teaching, action research, industrial design human / user-centred design

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Designing for the Other

This paper discusses a pilot study into whether the introduction of the concept of the ‘Other’ (after Said 1991) is useful in broadening the conceptual understanding and empathy of first year industrial design students and thus move them away from a position of an ‘I methodology’ of design. The concept was introduced via a lecture delivered to Coventry University students and impact was measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis 1980). A research group (who received the lecture) and a control group (who did not) completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) over a three-week period. Students were also tasked with choosing a ‘persona’ most like themselves from specially developed ‘persona’ cards. Analysis showed that although the students scored more highly on three IRI subscales in terms of averages, a mean score analysis produced inconclusive results. However, there were indications that the concept of the ‘Other’ did have an impact on the research group in terms of persona card choices, in that this group was more likely to step outside gender boundaries. Therefore the findings from this pilot study proved inconclusive in determining whether the concept of the ‘Other’ had a positive impact on design students’ conceptual understanding and empathy towards the end user, and thus it is not possible to assess whether it can enhance their ability to move away from a position of ‘I methodology’ design. Nonetheless, the pilot study did highlight the need for a more rigorous research framework, in that more emphasis is needed to both develop the concept of empathy as it pertains to design students and, perhaps, the concomitant development of a ‘bespoke’ measurement tool, coupled with a more targeted approach to student participation.

 

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