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Principles and Methods of User Research




Insight Development

Credit Hours


Introduces the principles and methods of user research for design.

This course will introduce the principles and methods of user research drawing on the fields of anthropology and design as well as the intersection between these fields. What is a “user” and why might it be important to conduct research from a user-centered perspective? What is the history and background of user-centered design? What are the different approaches to conducting primary research” including ethnographic research, qualitative interviews, and quantitative research as well as digital research and visual research? This course will also engage with emerging social theories about the nature of human experience and notions of the “user” that are transforming the field of design including the nonhuman (machine and animal users), users as participants, non-users and multiple subjectivities.

Learning Objectives

Class time will be focused on lectures, discussions, hands-on activities and review of weekly assignments. Students will become familiar with the value of different approaches to research and gain experience in conducting research through individual and group assignments.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

  • Understand user-centered design.
  • Recognize the role of user research in different phases of the design process.
  • Identify and evaluate user research method(s) suited to their design goals.
  • Develop and implement an efficient user research study design.
  • Carry out, analyze, synthesize, and present a user research study.
  • Understand the relevance of emerging social theories to the practice of user research.

Format & Grading

  • 20% Class Participation
  • 30% Weekly Assignments
  • 50% Final Project

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students.