On the quest of a researchable question

It is that time of the year, I’m starting my second year as a graduate student in the graphic design program at NC State. This means that I have to stop just thinking about what I want to do for thesis and actually start working on it!

I’m living some exciting but scary times, trying to figure out the famous “researchable question” in which I will base my whole investigation. I thought it would be interesting if I document the whole process, so I can go back someday and laugh about it –ok, not really. I feel it is a nice way to reflect upon my work and also a nice way to share my experiences to anyone who is going through the same process. Who knows? Maybe you could find a little piece of information that is useful for your own research. Or at least a good amount of “not to do” lessons.

First of all I made a couple of list with keywords and topics that I’m interested in:

From these I got these overarching concepts:

Educational Content + Physical Activities

Social Interaction + Personal Mobility

Graphic Design + Interaction Design

Then I made my first attempt and tried to formulate a set of researchable questions which I’m calling a proto-questions, because I was thinking if a question is like a living organism, my questions at this stage would be like a protozoa. Anyway, this is what I got:

1. How can a toolkit of haptic devices be incorporated into a playground to stimulate learning in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

2. How can a design system promote physical rehabilitation through social play in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

3. How can a design platform track progress and provide status and feedback that encourages physical rehabilitation and knowledge acquisition in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

4. How can a design system using collaborative-competitive learning motivates children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy to engage with educational content and physical activity?

5. How can a design system foster the involvement of family, teachers, and physical therapists with the physical activities and educational content of children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy to provide encouragement?




I have to mention that this semester I’m taking a class called  Thesis Prep. Our professor asked us to bring our proto-questions to class written on a big piece of paper so we could discuss them as a class.

The general feedback: I need to be more specific! Of course! 🙂

Based on the feedback we got on class we spent some time refining our questions and narrowed down to two questions:

1. How can gamification using collaborative-competitive learning serve to understand mathematics while performing physical activities in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

2. How can a toolkit of haptic devices incorporated into a playground improve comprehension of mathematics in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?


The assignment for next week: Rewrite again our main question and come up with three to five subquestions, which I’ll post soon!

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