New article published in Educational Gerontology. Three lab members are co-authors: Mauricio Mejía, Wenqi Zheng, and Yumeng Xie. In the article, we propose a preliminary model of selective participatory activities and report a case study in designing for social connections of older adults. Engaging stakeholders in all activities of the design process is ideal, but in resource-limited projects typical in health, selecting some core activities for participation could support both stakeholder agency and project viability. Experts must adjust and balance influence in different activities to achieve meaningful participation of all stakeholders.
Mejía, G. M., Guest, M. A., Zheng, W., Peckham, A., Doebbeling, B., Xie, Y. & You, Q. (2023) Who’s ideating, prototyping, and evaluating? Selective participatory activities in resource-limited design for health projects. Educational Gerontology. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2023.2250214
While participatory design approaches aim to include stakeholders in all design activities, in resource-limited situations, participation is challenging. Participatory designers often make decisions dealing with the tension between the agency of stakeholder participants and the project’s viability. In designing health services, care professionals have limited availability, and patients, such as low-income older adults, have limitations such as lack of transportation and lower access to specialized communication technology or broadband. Yet, it is critical to find innovative ways to engage stakeholders in the design process for services and interventions that aim to improve their health and well-being. This article explores new ways to engage stakeholders in the participatory design process in resource-limited projects. We used a case study approach focused on the design experience of a project focused on social isolation and older adults to understand the complexity of real-world participatory design. While there are tradeoffs between project viability and stakeholders’ agency, stakeholders’ agency is possible in resource-limited projects. However, experts must adjust and balance influence in different activities to achieve meaningful participation of all stakeholders.