Design-based Research

Course - second cycle - 15 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2017

Course Code:
KD646A revision 2
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Interaction Design
Date of ratification:
16 November 2016
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
16 January 2017
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
02 December 2011

Entry requirements

Passed the two preceding studio courses in Year 2 (Design and social innovation, Play and ludic interaction) or courses deemed equivalent – see programme syllabus.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as part of a general degree at advanced level


The focus of this course is design-based research, that is, academic knowledge construction including design activities. The course provides an introduction to the conceptual foundations for understanding design-based research, as well as the methodological tools for performing it.


Epistemological foundations for design-based research, including notions such as experiential knowledge, practical knowing, knowing-in-action and artifacts-as-knowledge.
Implications for knowledge representation and communication in design-based research.
The relations between design activity and research activity.
Methodological foundations, including practice-based research, research-oriented design, research-through-design, and interaction criticism.

Learning outcomes

In order to increase precision, the generic types of outcomes are mapped to interaction design as follows.
Knowledge and understanding – Repertoire and theory (canonical designs, important design elements and important theoretical concepts)
Competence and skills – Skills and technique (including design approach)
Judgment and approach – Reflection and criticism.

Repertoire and theory
1. Building an understanding of the epistemological and conceptual foundations for design-based research.

Skills and techniques
2. Displaying ability to plan a design-based research process.
3. Displaying ability to plan, execute, document and analyze design experiments pertinent to larger research interests.

Reflection and criticism
4. Displaying ability to engage in knowledge construction within interaction design research through criticism.

Learning activities

The course is aligned with the Thesis project 2 course, in order to enable students to use the preparation of their thesis projects as cases for practical experimentation with the theoretical and conceptual “tools” provided. Specifically, learning activities in the course include design experimentation within the frame of the overall thesis research interests, and planning the thesis project as a research process.
The course is structured as a series of seminars.
Learning activities are further specified in a detailed Course Guide


The learning outcomes are assessed through individual or small-group assignments that are discussed in plenary seminars. The assignment for learning outcome 2 consists in planning the research process of the thesis project.

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Extracts from:
Krippendorff, K. (2006). The semantic turn: A new foundation for design. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.
Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Further sources may be added according to the thesis project directions and individual learning needs.
Rodgers, P and Yee, J (editors), (2014) The Routledge Companion to Design Research, Routledge
These readings will be complemented by resources available online.
Further sources may be added according to the thesis project directions and individual learning needs.

Course evaluation

Plenary discussion and individual written evaluation, focusing on the learning outcomes and the means for achieving them (learning activities, resources, course organization etc.).