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Is the topic sensitive?

Are people uncomfortable or unwilling to answer questions about a particular subject?

Can you observe the Phenomena?

You must be able to observe what is relevant to your study. You could observe and observe but if you never see what you’re studying you’re wasting your time. You can't see attitudes. Although you can observe behaviors and make inferences about attitudes. Also, you can't be everywhere. There are certain things you can't observe.

Do you have a lot of time?

Many people don't realize that observational research may be time consuming. In order to obtain reliability, behaviors must be observed several times. In addition, there is also a concern that the observer's presence may change the behaviors being observed. It is in the researchers’ best interest to observe for a long period of time.

Know what you are looking for?

Observations are a great way to start a research project. After your initial observations gather your research, and decide to do more observations & supplement your study with surveys.

Take field notes

Include descriptive as well as inferential data. It is important to describe the setting and the mood in a detailed manner. All such things that may change behavior need to be noted. Especially reflect upon

your presence. Do you think that you changed the behavior noticeably? Map patterns that you notice

when observing multiple users.

Types of Observation

Unobtrusive observation

Unobtrusive measures involves any method for studying behavior where individuals do NOT know they are being observed

Obtrusive observation

In Obtrusive observation, people know that you are watching them.

The only negative aspect of this is that they are reacting to you.

Methods Observation

Time Sampling

Determines the degree to which a behavior occurs by observing and

recording the incidence of the behavior at specific time intervals.

Event Sampling Observation of an event that has been defined in advance and what occurs before and following the event.

Anecdotal Record A descriptive narrative recorded after the behavior occurs. Used to fully detail a certain event or behavior.

Journaling A recording of brief details about each person after a behavior occurs.

Running Record A sequential record recorded while the behavior is occurring. Used to document what people are doing in the particular situation.

Photo Documentation Documenting the users behavior via photograph

Unstructured Interviewing direct interaction between the researcher and the user

Case Studies An intensive study of a specific individual or specific context

Thoughtless acts observations watching users: react, respond, co-opting, exploiting, adapting, conforming, and signaling


Why Research?

The overall aim of design research is to develop an accessible,

robust body of knowledge that enhances our understanding of

design processes, applications, methods and contexts. Often, this knowledge helps to define the best practice and workable methods in dealing with design. It has considerable potential for improving

our understanding of experiences people have with design. Why

designs have been successful or not. What has happened in the past and how we can learn from it. Design research is cross disciplinary, and often interdisciplinary, working together to

explore a design problem using different perspectives.

Research Methods

design discipline specific research such as industrial design, fashion and textiles, interactive design, which may have a specific technical or product focus, and can include materials and process research.

research into usability, applied ergonomics, ethnography, and other

studies which aim to develop methods to get design closer to user needs.

cultural and historical research which aims to better understand the role that design plays in our culture, and how individuals and communities interact with visual culture.

Design pedagogy research which explores issues of learning and cognition

through design.

applied research into design problem areas, such as crime prevention, sustainability, demographic change and healthcare, which aims to develop new methods and design exemplars for dealing with contemporary


case study: the background, development, current conditions and environmental interactions of one or more individuals, groups, communities, businesses or institutions is observed, recorded and analyzed for stages of patterns in relation to internal and external influences.


analysis: classes of data are collected and studies conducted to discern patterns and formulate principles that might guide future action

comparison: two or more existing situations are studied to determine their

similarities and differences.

correlation-prediction: statistically significant correlation coefficients between and among a number of factors are sought and interpreted.

evaluation: research to determine whether a program or project followed the prescribed procedures and achieved the stated outcomes.

design-demonstration: new systems or programs are constructed, tested

and evaluated

survey-questionnaire: behaviors, beliefs and observations of specific groups are identified, reported and interpreted.

status: a representative or selected sample of one or more phenomena is

examined to determine its special characteristics.

theory construction: an attempt to find or describe principles that explain how things work the way they do.

trend analysis: predicting or forecasting the future direction of events.




Presentation Boards

Presentation Boards

Sam Roth senior studio

Sam Roth – senior studio



-Altmann, J. Observational study of behavior: sampling methods.

-Altmann, J. Observational sampling methods for insect behavioral ecology.

-Lehner, P.N. Handbook of Ethological Methods, Cambridge U Press

-Martin, Bateson. Measuring Behavior: An Introductory Guide, Cambridge U Press

- Martin Bone &Kara Johnson I Miss My Pencil


-Cross, N Developments in Design Methodology, Chichester, UK

-Höger, H Design Research: Strategy Setting to Face the Future, Abitare Segesta.

-Krippendorff, K The Semantic Turn

-Laurel, B. Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, Cambridge: M.I.T. Press

Presentation -Warren K. Wake Design Paradigms: A Sourcebook for Creative Visualization