In my current research, I explore experimental ways to teach design skills in primary schools for the benefit of both designers and children. This work builds on the PhD project I finished in 2016.
My PhD thesis investigates how users, and especially children, can play an active role in research related activities in the design process. In 12 case studies I involved children as co-researcher, researching their peers and the world around them to get insight in their lives and inspiration for design. When children influence the design process from the start, products and services can be better adjusted to their needs, and moreover, it stimulates their personal development in several ways. I have explored co-research in projects with children from 8 to14 years old and with other target groups such as elderly.
My working experience is not limited to academia. After my graduation project for DOK library concept center, I worked as researcher and designer for an interaction design agency in Rotterdam (Hoog&Diep), I conducted user research in the form of contextmapping and focus groups with adults and designed concepts with the gathered user insights. Together with a design agency in Delft (Frank&Frens), I further developed my graduation design, funded by Probiblio, resulting in a website on which children can record short movies about books to inspire other children to pick a book to read (www.boekenbabbels.nl). This project combined academic research, educational and financial concerns into a feasible solution.
Currently my scholarly interests are in the field of participatory design and co-design, especially with children. I want to extend the co-research approach to other phases in the design process and link design skills to 21st century skills. I think children need to develop their creative power by exploring design and technology as an extension piece that can be applied to follow their goals and to create the world around them. Children can be seen as an ‘extreme’ target group and insights gained from research with them can be expanded to other target groups.