Inclusive human-centered design : experiences and challenges to teaching design engineering students
Landa Ávila, Irma Cecilia
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A considerable literature has grown up around the theme of inclusive design, but few studies have pointed the challenges to educate it. Recently, the inclusive design concept and philosophy have been included in the engineering design curricula as part of human factors and ergonomics module in a Mexican University. The expected value was to create empathy and awareness about physical and cognitive differences of the potential users among young students. The aim of this paper is to describe the teaching experiences and challenges of executing a design project using by the first time an inclusive design approach. Nine design proposals were developed during a five-month workshop by 40 undergraduate students and two teachers following methods from both human-centered and inclusive design. In collaboration with a non-profit organisation, each team designed a product to help children with arthrogryposis, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or hemiparesis to carry out a daily life activity. Some issues were identified from the student’s viewpoint such as the complexity of reading scientific papers slow the design process, students felt overwhelmed with the responsibility to find a meaningful solution and they had problems to gain feedback from users. From the teacher’s perspective, the main challenges were the increase in the amount of time that students needed help and the lack of design research techniques to communicate with people with a speech disability. Another finding was that the use of a design logbook facilitated the process by allowing the student’s metacognition after each activity. Overall, the evidence showed positive effects in students, increasing their level of engagement and motivation during the project and achieving a design that tried to satisfy the different user’s needs. In addition, all the students recognised that the module had a great impact in their professional training and it should remain in the design engineering curricula. Despite its exploratory nature, this study offers some insight into how enhance the inclusive design training among young students. © 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
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