IDSE203 Studio: Research and Synthesis

About this course

This course represents the start of the Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship entrepreneurial endeavor. Students will gather data through qualitative methods of contextual research, analyze that data, and begin to identify trends, patterns, insights and opportunities for design.

Outcomes and competencies

The following outcome statements articulate the competencies, abilities, and skills a student will have as a result of completing this class. Students will...

  • Identify patterns and trends in the context of a particular large-scale social problem
  • Identify opportunities for interaction design solutions that can positively impact and affect human behavior on a large, social scale
  • Identify opportunities for business interventions based on research and synthesis
  • Begin to identify design constraints and parameters in which to build and prototype design solutions

Core concepts and ideas

This class emphasizes the following main ideas, themes, and concepts:

  • Design research, applied, in order to gain empathy and understand the human needs associated with a given social problem
  • Synthesis, applied, in order to manage complexity, identify patterns, formulate hypotheses, describe insights, and identify opportunities




Discussion: Our Research & Synthesis Process – Group research & Debrief method

Begin research planning process

In your team, build a research and ethnography plan, just like you did in the previous quarter. This is due via email (and posted on the blog) mid week (Wed 11/2).

Begin conducting research. Refine ethnographic plan and recruit participants. Conduct ethnography with various users and constituents. Spend as much time in the field as possible.



Check-In Presentation (10 minutes per group): Initial research findings & Initial affinity diagram

Work in Class: Research Transcription, Affinity Diagram Creation

Continue ethnography and foundational research. Spend as much time in the field as possible.

Begin to document research (transcription)

Begin to create affinity diagram scaffold


Research & Synthesis

Work in Class: Rotating synthesis – 1 team member switches per group for 2 hours each rotation.

Work in Class: Research Transcription, Affinity Diagram Creation

Continue synthesizing data through affinity diagramming & grouping themes. Use sketching & diagramming to make sense of the data.

Prepare a mid-point presentation with current research findings, progress on synthesis and process reflection.


Research & Synthesis

Mid Point Presentations. Each group gets 15 minutes with 15 minutes of feedback from a faculty panel.

Work in Class: Synthesize panel feedback and continue working.

Continue work based on faculty feedback

Begin to identify and extract major insights

Read Exposing the Magic of Design (ch 8)



Working class.

Continue Synthesis, sketching, storyboarding and diagramming.

Read Theory of Change: A Practical Tool for Action, Results & Learning

Read Logic Model Development Guide


Synthesis & Design

Work in Class: Identify design considerations, Theory of Change, and Storyboarding

Finalize design considerations

Begin theory of change, storyboards, and presentation (be ready for a trial-run next Saturday!)



Trial Run: Presentation with Faculty panel

Work in Class: Refine Theory of Change and Storyboarding; Presentation Completion

Begin insight combination process

Start generating ideas (shoot for 100 ideas)

Complete and practice Presentation!



Final Presentations (Open to Public)

Continue Ideation (shoot for 200+ ideas)