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I am a Designer, so why Research? Endorsing a Value Sensitive Design Practice through Design Research

Principal Investigator:

This dissertation aims to gain new insights through a value sensitive design process emphasizing that research can enrich and inform design practice. Over the years, design has become a popular term in different disciplines (e.g., design education for industry) that have shaped the term design through its work practice. Nonetheless, how each discipline 'designs' remains non-specific in places. For example, design education sticks to its roots focusing on the practical education of design practitioners. Design research is instead considered a partial aspect.

The challenge arises in providing design practitioners with methodological guidance to inform their design processes through research directions of human-computer interaction (HCI). This dissertation is motivated by the observation that design, from a practical perspective, mainly foregrounds design practitioners' values. In other words, design practitioners use personas or user journeys within a design process and imagine how a design for users should look like, missing a more sound user perspective incorporating their interests, needs, and values. Hence, I consider HCI as this research area provides a variety of methods to study how humans use, for example, digital artifacts or systems aligning with their needs, interest, and values within a design.

To support this user perspective in a design process serves as the initial challenge of this dissertation, i.e., to unfold user values from the lenses of research to realize a value sensitive design practice. To tackle this challenge, three strains from the field of HCI shape the research methodology of this dissertation: first, the theoretically founded approach value sensitive design to exclusively account for human values, and second, the approach of reflective design to emphasize collaborative reflection on designer and user values through participation. Third, the proposal of research through design to grounding the contribution of this dissertation in the design discipline and underlining research as a part of design processes. The proposed research methodology is elaborated through three case studies on health data donation, privacy-aware donation of mobility data, and participation in system design.