Review of Participatory Design Approaches and When to Use Each Approach

UROP Title: Review of Participatory Design Approaches and When to Use Each Approach

Term UROP is offered: Fall 2020

Compensation: Paid ($13.50/hr) or credit

Location: Fully remote

Supervisors/Contacts: Megha Hegde and Kendra Leith

Project Description

MIT D-Lab has documented initial hypotheses about which type of participatory design (user-centered, co-design, and user-generated) to use when and why. However, the team is interested in conducting a more in-depth study on the different types of participatory design and the factors that contribute to choosing one approach over another.

The UROP would develop an evidence base to create a cross-comparison of the different types of participatory design approaches that exist. The UROP would begin by conducting a literature review on the approaches to participatory design, when organizations use each approach, and what factors contribute to that decision. In addition, the student may support the research team to conduct interviews with organizations using each approach.

Outputs will include an annotated bibliography and presentation on findings from the literature and/or interviews. This research will help inform the field on which approaches are most applicable given the goals of the project and the context.

Key Research Questions:

  • Which types of participatory design approaches do different organizations use?
  • When do they use each approach and why?
  • What factors contribute to that decision?


Applicants should have an interest in international development and design. Students should have a background in social science research and experience conducting literature reviews as well as experience and/or training in conducting interviews.


This is a paid UROP opportunity at $13.50/hour with an expectation that the student will spend between 80-140 hours on the project over the course of the semester.

Apply by September 15, 2020

Interested applicants should email Megha Hegde, MIT D-Lab Research Associate and Kendra Leith, MIT D-Lab Associate Director for Research with aresume and brief explanation of why they are interested in this project and describe any relevant previous experience.

Link to opportunity on the MIT UROP site