Interviews and questionnaires
As a professional, one understands the benefits of primary research methods such as interviews, questionnaires or more observational practices when applying them to one own’s research and design projects, but teaching them require other abilities. Students usually do not see a clear relation between the insights brought by the data collected and their idea development, how one could impact the other. However, once they try to interview a family member or a friend, or they question a larger number of people on their topic of interest, some results will surprise them and provide the inputs needed to pursue their research, and even in some cases to develop their outcome. To justify the usefulness of these methods, I will inform here of successful case studies in how students' interaction with people through interviews and questionnaires positively influenced their work.
The first example to recall is a student who interviewed a friend who was suffering from chronic depression. She wanted to help her and others who were in the same situation by sharing this reality. As an illustrator, she turned her friend into a character and she illustrated her world, her feelings, her combats and victories against her depression, all in a book. Another of my students did quick street interviews to at least ten construction workers to ask them about their understanding of safety measures as she was researching on how dust could affect their health by not wearing a mask and protection glasses. These results allowed her to design a graphic campaign that would bring consciousness on such issue. At the end, collecting and analysing data may allow students to detect a need, a problem or a potential source of information to explore and to tackle back through their work.