The IDeATe network

The IDeATe network is a cross-campus initative that will connect students, faculty and researchers in collaborative and curricular experiences which bridge technology, arts and design. Launching in August 2014, IDeATe will support eight interdisciplinary concentrations and minors. These courses will also serve as living labs for design research, and will introduce novel mobile and responsive environment solutions to support integrative design learning and creativity.

As a student researcher, I conducted a pilot study to identify potential research methods and themes for future IDeATe classrooms. My data will inform future large-scale research projects in studio spaces around the Carnegie Mellon campus.

In particular, my research was focused on the use of collaborative spaces, the use of technology, team coordination, and the overall studio experience.

Initial research

I observed the junior design studio at CMU. During their classes, I would take notes on the students’ collaborations, technology use, and mood. In an attempt to study students’ movements around the room, I annotated a floor plan with each student’s location every fifteen minutes. I also briefly interviewed students during breaks and before and after class.

The junior industrial design studio space at CMU

When my observations were complete, I consolidated my notes into an affinity diagram. This helped me to identify three overall themes in the studio experience: collaboration, use of technology and tools, and socializing.

Activity packet & workshop

Because of the design students’ tight schedules, I developed an activity packet for students to complete in their own time, rather than meeting with me for interviews. Inside the packet was a time grid activity, where students were asked to mark where they work at various points during the day, and an on-paper, written version of “I like, I wish.” I later collected these packets, and analyzed their responses.

i like


I wish

A week later, I gathered a small group of students for an in-person workshop where we discussed studio life. I allowed for some freeform discussion, but also asked questions to clarify activity packet responses. I also performed a “what if” activity, where we brainstormed what the studio space would be like, given certain changes.

Putting everything together

After the workshop, I organized all of my data from the semester into a Powerpoint presentation, and shared my findings with the IDeATe team. The team was especially interested in my suggestions for future iterations of the study, which are included as “revisions” and “my two cents” in the slides. My main suggestion was to perform diary studies, as the team is interested in students’ work habits over time.

Another point of discussion was my “good brainstormer” finding, in which several students explained that they knew a classmate who was particularly good at brainstorming, and regularly went to them for help. We wondered how those good brainstormers might be recognized, or asked to hold office hours.