Visual Action Methods in the Research Process, Using

By Susan Sherringham and Sue Serle.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Human-centred, participatory and co-design approaches to designing often involve working in collaborative, interdisciplinary contexts. In such situations promoting collegial open environments and methods of engagement to bring forward and capture the ideas, opinions and perspectives of the participants for discussion is paramount. Visual action methods provide appropriate ways of promoting such environments, eliciting information, promoting discussion and facilitating consensus within group situations. These methods provide ways for gaining deeper understandings of the research situation that are appropriate to practice and research.
Visual action research requires the design and development of tools and models of engagement that are suitable for capturing the voice of the stakeholders as both qualitative and quantitative information in the form of generative dialogues and visual artifacts. The co-creation of these rich pictures allows for disparate interdisciplinary groups to develop shared understandings. The picture holds the context and highlights the issues for discussion and development.
This paper discusses participatory and co-design approaches as appropriate methods for developing design briefs for learning environments in higher education. These methods of research and design engagement are being used for the purpose of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Priority Project – A protocol for developing curriculum-led human-centred next generation learning environments in higher education. The study is drawing together theories and research from social design, appreciative enquiry, positive psychology, cultural theory to inform participatory design processes and bespoke tools that scaffold stakeholders in these engagements. The processes and bespoke tools endeavor to address the complex relations of people, ‘things’, learning and space.

Keywords: Socio-political Constructions, Socio-spatial Constructions, Action Research, Participatory Design, Co-design, Play, Games, Ludic Space, Sensemaking

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 10, pp.371-386. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.421MB).

Susan Sherringham

Course Director of Interior Design, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Susan Sherringham (BA ( Hons)), is Course Director of Interior Design in the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building. She is a member of the working party on Teaching and Learning Space Improvement at UTS, initially acting as a team leader of one of the two sub working parties and coauthoring the working party report, she is now chair of the working party. She has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer, as a Director of a multidisciplinary design practice and in her own multidisciplinary design practice, primarily designing for the commercial sector including research and development projects. Her current post graduate research focuses on adaptive expertise, systems thinking, organizational learning and life-long learning in the design industry; an aspect of which is conceptualizing the workplace as a learning environment.

Sue Serle

Lecturer, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sue Serle, Bachelor of Arts (Interior Design) RMIT, Masters Design & Planning University of Melbourne, is a lecturer in interior architecture in the Faculty of the Built Environment at The University of New South Wales. Susan is an Accredited Member of the Design Institute of Australia and has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer. Her research interests focus on visual languages, interdisciplinary and workplace design in office, health, and education particularly new learning environments. Teaching is a major part of her work and contributing to an environmentally sustainable future is a key goal.


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