Incorporating Contextual Factors Into a Design Process: An Analysis of Engineering for Global Development Literature Conference Proceeding uri icon



  • Abstract; It is frequently suggested that designing artifacts requires a deep understanding of context. We analyzed 186 papers from three specific literature searches involving a design process for global development applications. Each paper was reviewed and coded for (1) whether or not the study teams performed some level of contextual investigation, (2) the methods and/or approaches for understanding the artifact’s context, and (3) use of open-ended analysis or framework-based analysis for qualitative contextual investigation. In total, 159 papers (85%) described some level of contextual investigation with 46 of these describing performance-focused field tests in the artifact’s context of use and 113 papers using qualitative methods for contextual investigation. 18 papers used a framework, such as a cited questionnaire, for analyzing their contextual data, overwhelmingly during needs assessment and validation stages of design. We find that study teams of every paper motivated their design with contextual information, but there was great diversity in how context was investigated, analyzed, and described. Few linked their design decisions to specific contextual factors. We recommend that researchers include detailed description of methods and contextual factors considered during their design process to improve the transferability and repeatability of design approaches.

publication date

  • August 17, 2020

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • January 25, 2024 1:56 AM

Full Author List

  • Burleson G; Sienko KH; Toyama K

author count

  • 3

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