Need a Reason to Visit Amsterdam? An Interview With Johannes Cronje on ‘How to Design Questions for Design Research’

The upcoming AACE EdMedia conference will be held from June 24-28 in Amsterdam. The program contains six workshops as part of the conference. Workshops are a great way to explore a concept, technology or practice in depth, network with other participants and receive a mix of scholarly overview and practical advice. To highlight why you should attend a workshop or consider organizing one yourself, AACE Review features selected presenters in a series of interviews.

Johannes Cronje is hosting a workshop on designing research questions and align them with research aims. His workshop will take place on Monday, June 24 from 9:30AM-1:00PM. We talked to him about reasons for attending EdMedia and the concept of his workshop entitled ‘How to Design Questions for Design Research’. In the interview for AACE Review, Johannes Cronje talks about why he is part of the AACE conference community, what participants will learn in his workshop, and what methods he is planning on using.

You have been a regular at AACE conferences for many years. What makes this community special in your opinion? 

The community is such a nice blend of internationally renowned presenters and enthusiastic newcomers. There is always something new to learn and always some experience to share.  Now that it is in Amsterdam, my favourite city and one of those gateways to the world the community is even more cosmopolitan and diverse.

Do you have a favorite conference experience or anecdote to share? 

Last year was such fun meeting up with the effervescent Curt Bonk and the elegant Sue McKenny, and just fooling around taking photographs to send to Tom Reeves to let him feel left out…  Connecting with friends that go back many years.

What are you most looking forward to at this conference?

I am really looking forward most of all to my workshop!

Why did you decide to submit a workshop proposal?

I submitted in response to the reaction that I got at last year’s graduate sessions.  I presented a 2 minute summary of my system to design research questions and align them with research aims. The response was overwhelming, and I thought graduates and supervisors might want to have a greater in-depth look at the model.

What key insights do you hope your participants will take away from your workshop?

By the end of the workshop delegates will be able to:

  1. Define the aim of a study in terms of four words:  explore, explain, develop or describe.
  2. Determine an epistemological point of departure for a design research project based on a belief system somewhere between an objective and subjective reality.
  3. Position the study in terms of a concern with abstract or concrete conceptualization.
  4. Align the epistemological and conceptual dimensions with the identified research aim.
  5. Develop matching research questions using the question stems “who, what, why or when”.

What methods will you use during the workshop?

This is a highly interactive workshop in which each participant will get to formulate their research aims in a very clear format, and then, from that format, derive two research questions that will drive the rest of their study.

The model works well for developing an initial research proposal, for structuring existing work, or for re-structuring a thesis when a candidate feels that they have “lost the plot”.

Who should be coming to your workshop and why?

Graduate students and their supervisors. Graduate students because it will help them structure their work, and supervisors because it will show them a technique to use with their own graduate students.

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