Discovery Centre

Design Research

Technology is transforming the way students learn, work and interact. How can we create interactive environments that foster productivity and collaboration?


Observations, Interviews, Literature Review, Synthesis, Analysis, Ideate

Studying How We Study

With rapid changes in technology and education systems, learning environments are quickly transforming from traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms into interactive, technological communal spaces. In this research project, my team and I work with the Carleton University Discovery Centre to examine the effectiveness of the Discovery Centre as a learning environment, specifically regarding its ability to facilitate group work, and promote student productivity.

Research Plan

The process we used to conduct our research project can be seen as a multi-stage process. This first stage involved creating a research plan and conducting primary and secondary research. The second stage involved analyzing and organizing the data we collected, and idenitfying problem areas and patterns within the research. We finished with ideating potential solutions and presenting directions of exploration based on our findings and user feedback.

Understanding the Space

We conducted observations in three areas in the space, using AEIOU observation techniques to record down activities, environment, interactions, object and users within the Discovery Centre. We found that our observation data could be categorized into five groups: the design of the space, studying, staff work, distractions, and facilities. Each of these categories house smaller sub-groups which we organized into an affinity diagram.


The stakeholder map allows us to view who is connected, directly or indirectly to the Discovery Centre. It also shows the relations between different stakeholders and how their individual needs are similar or different.

Kano Model

We used the kano model to map out different aspects or features of the space and evaluate which are wants versus which are needs. As a whole, the main areas of potential we found were elements that increase the comfort of the learning environment, methods for engaging students, ways to increase accessibility and accommodations for different activity types and work styles.

Design Opportunities

From our analysis and synthesis, we were able to identify the following areas as design opportunities for the Discovery Centre:




Interactive & Novel Learning Resources



Ideating Improvements

From the areas of potential we found, the de-stressors, novel learning resources, and collaboration areas stood out the most to me. Through ideation, I came up with potential solutions such as adjustable standing tables and a healthy living quadrant that promoted healthier studying habits and more activity during studying. I wanted to keep the open space but reduce noise and still provide privacy, so I thought of closable group work pods that helped isolate groups from disturbing others. Also to promote collaboration and more hands-on learning, I ideated modular whiteboard tables which allow users to share thoughts and write notes together.

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