Children as co-researchers


‘Children as Co-Researchers in Design. Enabling users to gather, share and enrich contextual data’.

With this thesis Fenne van Doorn got het PhD at the Delft University of Technology on March 30, 2016. She did her research as part of the ProFit project.

This dissertation investigates how users, and particularly children aged 8-12, can play an active role in research related activities in the design process. In participatory- and co-design, users participate increasingly early in the design process. When conducting user research in order to gain contextual knowledge about the lives, experiences and wishes of users, co-researchers can be of help in setting up, conducting research and analyzing the data.

Case studies

Eleven case studies are conducted to investigate if and how children are able to perform as co-researchers. Children conducted interviews with other participants, and in doing so increased their knowledge about people close to them and about themselves. Besides gaining valuable insights from their participants, the co-researchers accessed and shared their own experiences. So while listening to others, the children got sensitised themselves. In other words, next to gathering more data, ‘super-sources’ are created when children become co-researchers. The research in this thesis has yielded: a theoretical model about involving children in design as researchers, descriptive case studies showing the set-up and conduction of co-research projects, a reflection on the added value of children as
co-researchers and a list of guidelines for practitioners who want to use co-research.