The “state of the nation” project

All students will work on a project that has both team-based and individual elements. They will be required to explore and define a “state of the nation” position on their discipline (Service Design or Design Ethnography). This will be submitted as an individual report. A group presentation will present the collective research undertaken, but framed as a new design enterprise that captures the future spirit, challenges and opportunities of their discipline. The module assessment will be apportioned: individual 3,000 word report with supporting portfolio (70%), team presentation (30%).

How will you be assessed?

Assessment criteria are as follows:

  • Understanding a range of research methods and their appropriate application in a focussed design research project.
  • Critical engagement with relevant literature in the field of design research.
  • Effective communication of research outcomes using appropriate media.

What is a “state of the nation” report?

It refers to an assessment of the current state of an issue or subject, identifying key challenges, opportunities, trends and likely future directions. For example, the US President gives an annual ‘State of the Union’ address which paints such a picture of the United States; similar addresses are given by other Heads of State.

So we want you to give a ‘state of the nation‘ assessment of your own design discipline. What are the key issues facing it? What are the critical drivers of change? What are the trends that help us understand its future course? How is research helping to redefine it?Where do you think your discipline will be in a few years’ time? These are certainly not the only questions you can ask, but are indicative of what a state of the nation on design ethnography, product design or design for services could address.

How do we start this project?

You will be given a briefing about this project on Friday 20 September, and you will begin work on this assessed work the week after.

Each Masters Programme Cohort will be divided into Jigsaw Groups of 4/5 students. Each group will be given around 10 papers to critically review (specific to their programme). These will be allocated to group members, so that each individual will have 2 papers to read in detail, to report back to the team on. They will be “experts” on these papers. Those individuals reading the same papers (roughly in groups of 3) will meet at least once in an expert group to discuss their interpretation of the papers before reporting back to their main jigsaw group.

Working individually students will critically review a selection of videos and blogs, and use research tools to assemble their own library of essential writings. Working in their Jigsaw Groups, they will plan a programme of primary research for week three.

The papers, videos and blogs that you are required to view are listed in the Readings page of this blog.

What happens in week three?

In this week students will undertake appropriate primary research – interviews, observation, site visits, etc. You should ask your Programme Director, Module Director and other staff for advice, but each team will be responsible for making approaches, and planning and undertaking the research.

In addition to doing this primary research you will continue going through the allocated readings, and finding other sources yourself.

Students will also begin writing up and preparing their presentation.

Some students will have been selected by Dynalucid to work in Newcastle during this week. In these cases you should maintain close contact with your team to see how your work for the client can feed into the team project.

What happens in week four?

As a team on Wednesday 9 October you will deliver a research presentation.This will present the collective view based on the research undertaken, but framed as a new design enterprise that captures the future spirit, challenges and opportunities of their discipline. You may chose to brand it. It is expected that all team members contribute to the presentation.

Individually, on Friday 11 October you will submit a 3,000 word report with supporting portfolio that presents your station of the nation position. The supporting portfolio will comprise a bibliography, a summary of the research methods you have used and the findings arising from them, and an explanation of the process and methods used by the team and yourself as an individual. Examples of field notes and hot reports may be included.


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