Loughborough University
LEON_G19-P1_Redacted.pdf (2.73 MB)

Research Design and evaluation of mobility interventions to enable people and goods to move freely, easily and safely using service design and participatory design research methods (Generic protocol G19-P1)

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posted on 2022-10-05, 09:03 authored by Stuart CockbillStuart Cockbill

Designers are increasingly becoming engaged in addressing key societal issues (e.g. social isolation), to improve overall wellbeing, to create more inclusive societies and to reduce environmental impact.

Service design approaches and collaborative and participatory design research methods are widely recognised and accepted in the literature (Visser et al., 2005; Sanders & Stoppers, 2008; 2012 as a means of better understanding and tackling key societal issues.

Such approaches enable extraction of detailed insights into people's desired current and future experiences and needs which can inform interventions and solutions. These approaches are increasingly used within government and industry to tackle complex issues for positive societal and environmental gains (Bradwell & Marr, 2008).

It is therefore critical for design students to be able to learn and practice service design and participatory design methods in the field, to inform their design solutions, to help them develop empathy with people different from themselves, and to begin tackling the issue of how we can create more inclusive societies. The inclusion of service design and participatory design methods in the curriculum of undergraduate and postgraduate design programmes is, therefore, timely, relevant and critical. An opportunity has arisen to collaborate with people in the local community and community organisations local to Loughborough University (e.g. John Storer House, Leicestershire County Council, Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland). This opportunity has been facilitated through on-going engagement with contacts at Leicestershire County Council who have recognised the value of this type of work, supported previous iterations of the module this work is being conducted as part of and are keen to be involved again. This generic protocol is to support teaching on a postgraduate level module in Loughborough Design School, and more broadly to support undergraduate teaching via extracurricular activities. The students working on the research project will either be prescribed by or will agree with module staff specific areas for investigation within the scope of ethical research practice. Students are provided with a comprehensive briefing and engage in a detailed discussion on the ethical challenges of engaging with people in the local community and with local community organisations and council members.

After the completion of exercises in the studio, the students conduct a period of extensive first-hand user research to identify problems and issues encountered by people in relation to their brief (i.e. issues pertaining to mobility). This research phase involves interaction and discussion with research participants accompanied by visual prompts to elicit dialogue. We are proposing that our students attend pre-organised events within local community hubs and organisations where they can talk with research participants about their projects and their ideas as well as showing them how their ideas might work e.g. by acting or role-playing or by showing them paper or card-based mock-ups (e.g. of an App interface).

As the pre-organised activities are already taking place, the research participants will not be taken out of their everyday context or normal day-to-day activities and will always be surrounded by community organisation staff

Additional research activities might also be planned by the students outside of existing events. In these cases, the students will be briefed and will follow Loughborough University's standard ethical guidance. Where appropriate, community organisation staff will be present, alongside some or all of the module staff listed on this generic protocol.

This generic protocol is a live document, the updated version should be sourced from Loughborough's Ethics Committee.



  • Design and Creative Arts
  • Loughborough University London


  • Creative Arts

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