Andrew Davidson

Autumn 2019

HCD charrette for K-12 outreach 

Students in an Charette

For the past few years, we have been using a design activity known as a charrette as a way to introduce students to the human centered design (HCD) process. In the "HCD Charrette," students are given a particular design space to explore (such as user interfaces for a website, mobile app, or a physical device). In a very short period of time (two hours or less), working in small groups, they brainstorm user needs, develop use-case scenarios, and create interaction designs for an application. We have run these participatory workshops with students at various educational levels, from middle school to graduate programs, and with K-12 teachers. 

A fast-paced, hands-on activity that gives a good first-hand overview of the entire field, the HCD Charrette allows students to experience the thrill of design, while raising questions about its practice, setting the stage for further study. It is adaptable to many different application areas and levels of expertise and interest.

We firmly believe that participatory activities such as this HCD Charrette are far more effective as outreach and recruiting for HCDE than traditional college information sessions. Our long-term goal is to use the HCD Charrette for broad outreach and recruiting in the K-12 environment. We also intend to evaluate this program and practice, and to expand its reach.

In a dub talk (July 5, 2017), “Filling the Pipeline: Design & Engineering Workshops for K-12 Outreach,” we summarized various HCDE outreach efforts. This short paper, “Human-Centered Design Charrettes for K–12 Outreach,” describes our HCDE charrettes for outreach. Further information about the HCDE K-12 Outreach program may be found here:

In this DRG, we will continue to broaden our outreach efforts for human centered design in the K-12 environment. UW student teams will facilitate an HCD Charrette in local school classrooms. Students will meet with classroom teachers to understand their students, learning goals, and environment. Curricula and materials for the HCD Charrette exist and students adapt these materials, customizing them for specific classroom needs. Charrette teams will visit local middle and/or high school classrooms and lead students in the workshop. They will assess the results of the workshops and prepare a report on their findings. We will use these findings to further develop the HCD Charrette protocol.

We are looking for dedicated and enthusiastic students to participate in this project. Eligible students should be familiar with the User Centered Design process, and have already taken HCDE 210, 318, or 518. Experience working with, teaching, or mentoring young students is a plus.

The DRG will meet on Tuesdays, from 4–5:30 p.m. All participants are expected to register for 2 credits.

To apply, please submit your resume and a letter explaining your interest and qualifications for the project.

The deadline for applications is Sunday, September 15. We will notify all applicants of our decisions by Monday, September 23.

Questions? Please contact:

  • Andrew Davidson <>, HCDE faculty, K-12 Outreach director
  • Taryn Bipat <>, HCDE PhD student, K-12 Outreach coordinator

Andrew Davidson's Research Group archive