A participatory framework proposal for guiding researchers through an educational mobile app development

Keywords: Participatory framework, Mobile application, Educational software development, Educational Design Research, Mixed-methods, Participatory Design, User-Centered Design


The research work reported in this article is part of a wider study aimed at developing a mobile application (app) for Science Education in primary school. For that, we designed a participatory framework proposal nested within the larger framework of Educational Design Research. This framework emerged from the authors’ need to organise the different phases of the mobile apps development and to arrange the expected products that arise from them. Our framework suggests a grounded, participatory and user-centred approach, relating literature contributions with data collected among future end-users. In this study, we exemplify the implementation of the proposed framework by presenting the outcomes of a specific moment of the preliminary research: students’ stories and drawing analysis, to define the mobile app concept. For that, we (1) present and describe the participatory framework proposal, (2) identify and characterise the research method adopted to define the mobile app concept, (3) reveal and analyse data collected from the implementation of a creative writing and drawing activity performed by fourth grade primary-school students, and (4) describe the implications of data analysis in the mobile app concept definition. Our intention is to share with other educational researchers an approach that can be used to develop educational mobile apps grounded on future end-users’ perceptions and ideas. We also aim to contribute to deepen the Educational Design Research apps by proposing and exemplifying the implementation of a framework that brings together researchers, students, teachers and experts.


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Author Biographies

Rita Tavares, CIDTFF, Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Rita Tavares is currently a Research Fellow. She is an integrated member of the Research Centre Didactics and Technology in Teacher Education – CIDTFF (originally Centro de Investigação em Didática e Tecnologia na Formação de Formadores), Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Portugal, and her main research interests are Digital Educational Resources, Digital Learning Environments, Participatory Design, User-Centered Design, Universal Design (for Learning), Educational Data Mining, and Science Education.

Rui Marques Vieira, CIDTFF, Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Rui Vieira has been teaching in University of Aveiro since 2004 where he is involved in initial and post-graduation teacher’s education. He is an integrated member of the Research Centre Didactics and Technology in Teacher Education – CIDTFF, Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Portugal, and his research interests are related mainly with Science Education and Critical Thinking.

Luís Pedro, DigiMedia, Department of Communication and Arts, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Luis Pedro is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication and Arts, University of Aveiro, Portugal. He is an integrated member of the Digital Media and Interaction Research Centre – DigiMedia and his research interests are related to Social Media Development, Integration and Assessment in Educational and Training Contexts.


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How to Cite
TavaresR., VieiraR. M., & PedroL. (2020). A participatory framework proposal for guiding researchers through an educational mobile app development. Research in Learning Technology, 28. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v28.2370
Original Research Articles