Interaction Design: Understanding Health and Well-Being

  • Jarian Cottingham, Caroline Schmidt, Kelly Tsao, and Ryan Wan.
    Jarian Cottingham, Caroline Schmidt, Kelly Tsao, and Ryan Wan.
  • Jarian Cottingham, Caroline Schmidt, Kelly Tsao, and Ryan Wan.
    Jarian Cottingham, Caroline Schmidt, Kelly Tsao, and Ryan Wan.
  • Jenny Liu, Kiri Maasen, Allen Osgood, and Audrey Western.
    Jenny Liu, Kiri Maasen, Allen Osgood, and Audrey Western.
  • Lawrence Chen, Sam Landay, Stephanie Mertz, and Emma Riley.
    Lawrence Chen, Sam Landay, Stephanie Mertz, and Emma Riley.
  • Christine Bosch, Savannah Est, Edward Lim and Victoria Lyon.
    Christine Bosch, Savannah Est, Edward Lim and Victoria Lyon.

In this spring 2016 seminar, students from across schools—Art+Design, Architecture, Engineering, Business, Social Work, and Arts & Sciences—tackled real challenges from organizations that deal with health issues by utilizing human-centered methods and creating meaningful interactions through their designs. Instructor Enrique Von Rohr, senior lecturer and the Sam Fox School's director of research and technology, identified four outside partners that deal with complex issues related to Alzheimer's research, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and pediatric care.

Students worked in small teams with individual partners. Although the content and nature of their collaborations differed, all teams followed similar trajectories in research, synthesis, prototyping, and design, culminating in a final presentation to their partner organization. They were challenged to observe and understand behaviors of their target audiences, as well as relationships between people and objects, in order to create meaningful connections and processes. While they often explored solutions that used computers or mobile devices, students addressed the entire experience of a person involved in each scenario, whether it entailed inputting information while on the go or documenting a person’s responses through an assessment.

The semester began with students interviewing program participants and key stakeholders, observing their working spaces and in some cases their interactions in a health care context. A key component of the process involved students visually documenting environments and capturing on-site information in order to guide their understanding of how users experience specific situations or their work conditions. This information was supplemented by course readings and materials from the partners. Next, students used visual methods as part of a synthesis phase, creating personas, storyboards, and AEIOU heuristic frameworks in order to interpret observations and identify potential solutions. As an example, one team created a storyboard of a day in the life of an occupational therapist, before and after implementation of its solution, in order to convey ways pain points would be remedied with its app.

Once teams identified potential solutions, they created wire frames and prototypes to walk through their solutions and test ideas with potential users. Throughout the semester, teams consulted with their partner organizations in order to validate ideas as they developed, and concluded by presenting a concept to each partner organization that addressed the initial challenge. Final concepts varied from paper or digital prototypes to video walkthroughs of how a user would engage with an app for mobile and tablet devices. The projects demonstrated a cycle of the design process with the potential to continue refinements beyond the class, a step that some of the team members are pursuing with their collaborating organizations.

The following students participated in this course:

Barnes-Jewish Hospital Physical Therapy team: Jarian Cottingham, Caroline Schmidt, Kelly Tsao, and Ryan Wan.

Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center team: Jenny Liu, Kiri Maasen, Allen Osgood, and Audrey Western.

School of Medicine Occupational Therapy team: Lawrence Chen, Sam Landay, Stephanie Mertz, and Emma Riley.

St. Louis Children's Hospital/BJC HealthCare's Center for Clinical Excellence team: Christine Bosch, Savannah Est, Edward Lim and Victoria Lyon.

Media

Institute for Public Health blog post

Partners

Barnes-Jewish Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, part of the Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine's Program in Occupational Therapy
St. Louis Children's Hospital/BJC HealthCare's Center for Clinical Excellence