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Module DBB03 - ID Masters Programme

Qualitative Research Methods

Instructor: Panos Markopoulos

March 5-9, 2012

About the Course

Qualitative research methods have developed largely within the social sciences and recently have been applied to the field of interaction design. This application is usually combined with a mix of creativity and elements of surprise introduced in the research, but also often with a lack of the methodological knowledge needed to analyze the data collected or to put the findings into perspective.

The aim of this course is for students to familiarize with methods and processes for performing qualitative research. The skills learnt are useful for both research projects and for supporting the design process; during the course we shall highlight how one needs to adapt methods and mindset for one or the other.  This course aims to provide interaction designers with an awareness of processes for analysing non numerical data, but also related caveats and opportunities.  It aims also to provide them with a reference framework so that the numerous combinations and variations of known methods that they may apply in a particular project can be related to each other. Most of all, the objective is to break mental barriers between research and design and to show how a scientific approach to studying humans may be revealing and rewarding for interaction designers.

The topics covered include:

The students will work in teams of three and will be asked to present their work in written reports and oral presentations. (see detailed schedule).


The schedule of the module is as follows



Meetings / Lecture / Presentations

Mon 5/3




Introduction to Qualitative Research

Tue 6/3 9:00-10:30

HG 3.02

 Introduction to Qualitative Data Analysis
Thu  8/3 10:00-11:00


Question & Answer for your project.

Fri 9/3




Final Presentations of mini Project: Present your process, and its results including a reflection on the limitations of the approach and findings. 


Video instruction material (from ID students to ID students)

Reading Material

Exercise 1 (team of 3)

In this exercise you are expected to familiarize with two methods for collecting qualitative data; you are invited to choose from the above list or a method that is interesting for you in the context of a project. Create a short movie (could be just a slideshow) that compares the pros and cons of the two methods. The short presentation is addressed to your fellow students of following generations who are not taking the course, but who could benefit from getting to know more about the method. You are supposed to convey the gist and lead them for finding out more about it. Your short presentation should compare:

Apply your chosen method to a case of your interest (e.g., relating to your current or previous design project). Represent in a video medium, instance of the process and reflections upon it and the data collected.

Deliver a zip file including

Exercise 2  (team of 4)

A  research oriented alternative, is to study the impact of design representations on the design process. Two approaches are suggested. You may choose your favourite:

Prepare a presentation detailing your research question, method and result, in about 20'-25'. Submit the pdf file of the presentation. Optionally, if time allows, submit a short report of the study e.g., 1000-1500 words detailing method and results. You can put supporting materials as extra files in a zip folder (and send it to me).

Previous Runs of this Course

Oct 2007, Mar 2007, Spring2008, Nov 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011