Design to Improve Patients' Sleep Experience in NHS Hospital Wards: Involving students in solving 'real world' problems

Emilene Zitkus, Emma Harris, Gary Miles, Felicity Astin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a collaborative educational initiative designed to enhance the learning experience for undergraduate product design students and boost their employability through an introduction to ‘real-world’ design challenges in healthcare settings. The initiative centred upon enhancing the learning experience for a cohort of 38 product design undergraduate students across a three-year programme through interdisciplinary research-informed teaching. We started with a student project in year one designed to help learners to understand the complexities and opportunities when designing for healthcare environment, as well as the importance of understanding stakeholders' needs (public involvement). This paper addresses the three steps taken to involve them in the project: 1) the research used to guide the selection of the problem; 2) the approaches we used to engage the students with an unfamiliar scenario, and; 3) the involvement of students and stakeholders. The results of the student projects are discussed with some reflection on ways to improve teaching. In this way our ideas contribute to new and innovative approaches to learning and teaching in design through cross-disciplinary collaborations with healthcare researchers, academics, practitioners and patients. These approaches can help to overcome common challenges that might hinder design educators in proposing human-centred healthcare projects to students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-364
Number of pages20
JournalDesign for Health
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020


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