Alumni Perspectives on their Membership in an Intergenerational Participatory Design Team
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Participatory Design (PD) gives technology users an active role in the design of the technologies they are meant to use. PD methods have been adapted for research with children to facilitate the creation of technologies that better meet children’s desires and expectations. While the benefits HCI practitioners receive from working with children in PD can include developing more child-centric interfaces and finding surprising new innovations, research is less clear on the participants’ perceptions of their experience—such as how they perceive matters that affect them or what personal gains intergenerational PD team participants may receive from their participation. Investigating the retrospective perspectives of adult and child members of intergenerational PD teams may enable researchers to improve or develop practices that are better aligned with participant expectations. Recent work has begun to look into the gains adults perceive from their participation on traditional PD projects, and has begun to observe gains to children during their participation on PD teams. However, the retrospective perspectives of adult and child alumni who were members of intergenerational PD teams have yet to be investigated. To understand how alumni of intergenerational PD teams perceive matters that affected their membership, I conducted anonymous, online surveys and follow-up interviews with three distinct participant groups from an intergenerational PD team: child design partner alumni, parents of child alumni, and adult design partner alumni. Outcomes include new understandings of 1) the perspectives of child design partner alumni with regard to the ethics of their previous participation, 2) the gains child design partners experience and attribute to their PD team participation from the perspectives of both child alumni and their parents, and 3) the gains that adult design partners experience and attribute to their PD team participation and their perspectives on membership. Throughout these findings participants describe how participation in intergenerational PD impacted their desire and perceived ability to pursue new goals and activities throughout their lives through the development of new skills, competencies, and mindsets. From these findings, I then synthesize ten recommendations toward the goal of making intergenerational PD better support the people who are involved in it.