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Course Detail

Course Name Participatory Design Research                     
Course Code 23SW802
Program Ph.D. Fellowship in Social Sciences and Technology
Credits 3

Course Description

This course briefly introduces students to the field of User Experience design (UXD), Interaction Design, Participatory Design, and related terminology. This is a very practice-based course and after the first week of short theoretical introduction, it will invite students to join the pre-planned Participatory Design research study. This Study will use a particular format of Participatory design and focus on designing an AR empathy game with children for children. Students are expected to participate in a design process at the local elementary school. Throughout the course, students will go through the full research study cycle from data collection to data analysis and writing a short paper. The expectation of the course is to collaboratively finish a research paper for a future conference submission.

Learning Objectives

The main aims and objectives of the course are to help students find answers to the questions:

  • what is the user experience design? What is participatory design? Which place do they take in the design process and how they can be applied in the research process?
  • How to design interactive products with children and for children?



  • Short lectures on the main concepts, terminology, and processes to establish the theoretical knowledge of UXD, Interaction Design, and Participatory Design
  • Guest lectures by professionals in the particular fields (1 h including 45 min talk and 15 min Q&A)
  • Practical exercises in class
  • Students will be involved in a team project (on-going research study)
  • Students will be invited and provided time to reflect on each step of what they are doing through the PD research process
  • Students will collaboratively write a paper to document their design process (potentially, it can turn to their future publication)


3 credit hours class (total of 45 hours including 24 hours in the classroom and 21 hours for field work). Class is mainly offered for Ph.D. students from Cognitive Sciences and Technology program. Other students are welcome to join or audit this class as well. Total number of students in the class is expected to be between 6 and 10.

Course Topics:

  1. UXD and Participatory Design as fields and how they relate to other fields: Computer Science, Human-Centered Computing, and Human-Computer
  2. Co-design and Participatory design: how to design with users and for
  3. Facilitating participatory design process with
  4. Interpreting the data collected from participatory design sessions with
  5. Analyzing the data using thematic analysis and writing the paper based on


Students are required to bring a laptop to class to participate in both in-class activities and project working sessions.


No textbook is required for this course. Readings and media materials for the course:

  1. Spinuzzi, (2005). The methodology of participatory design. Technical communication, 52(2), 163-174
  2. Druin, (2002). The role of children in the design of new technology. Behavior and information technology, 21(1), 1-25.
  4. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2012). Thematic analysis. In APA Handbook of research methods in Psychology, Vol 2: Research designs: Quantitative, qualitative, neuropsychological, and (pp. 57–71). American Psychological Association.
  5. Nowell, S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1609406917733847.
  6. Muravevskaia, E., & Gardner-McCune, C. (2023). Designing a Virtual Reality Empathy Game framework to create empathic experiences for International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 35, 100561.
  7. Muravevskaia, Abhijith A, Prabha P., Unnithan M., Arunav H, Rthuraj P R, Kanukuntha R., Manikytti (2023) Designing Empathy Game: Case on Participatory Design Session with children within the Indian context. The 22nd Interaction Design and Children Conference (accepted).
  8. Pasupuleti, D., Sasidharan, S., Manikutty, G., Das, A. M., Pankajakshan, P., & Strauss, S. (2023). Co-designing the Embodiment of a Minimalist Social Robot to Encourage Hand Hygiene Practises Among Children in India. International Journal of Social Robotics, 1-23.
  9. Study design protocol
  10. Additional readings: TBD

Course Outcome

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define the term “user experience design”, “interaction design”, and “participatory design” and identify how it fits into the design research cycle
  • Conduct a participatory design study (including study planning, data collection, data analysis, writing the results)
  • Write a research paper collaboratively

Evaluation Pattern

  1. Class participation
  2. Collaborative paper
  3. Self and peers contributions evaluation

Assessment Weightings:

Class participation 10%
Collaborative paper 60%
Self and peers contributions evaluation 30%



The course content will be helpful for students to understand the design process of a product in general and what role UX and PD play in this process. Students will be able to apply this knowledge in a large context approaching any of their projects from a broader perspective focusing on the end-user of their work.

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