Development of a Communication Tool to Support the Preschool Interior Design Process

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Virginia Tech

This study was designed to investigate the need for a communication tool to support child development professionals, design professionals, and parents in the preschool design process. Guided by the theoretical perspectives of Gardner and Bronfenbrenner, this research examined the need for a support tool in the design process, the format and content of such a tool, and the evaluation of a tool developed using the data as an organizing structure.

The following research questions guided this study: (a) Is a tool or support document needed to help educate and support communication between child development professionals, parents, and design professionals in the early phases of designing a preschool facility?, (b) What are the format and content issues that need to be addressed and included in developing such a tool?, and (c) How would child development professionals, design professionals, and parents comment on the usefulness of an educational/communication tool?

A multi-method data collection procedure was used to gather the data for the study. A focus group was conducted to ascertain general information from child development professionals, design professionals, and parents about their opinions and perceptions of the design process as a result of their personal experiences. Following the focus group, 13 interviews were conducted with different individuals, but representative of the same three populations. Upon completion of the interviews, the data were used as an organizing structure for the writing of a communication tool to aid in the design process of preschool facilities. The tool was then sent to 26 individuals for feedback using a questionnaire requesting responses about the need, content, and format of the document.

The results of this study showed that a support tool that fostered greater communication between child development professionals, design professionals, and parents was needed. Responses to the focus group and interviews also indicated that the format of the tool should be paper-based, or in book form, and that the themes identified in the responses should guide the content of the tool. Questionnaire responses confirm that the tool developed was an appropriate document that provided important information for the respondents.

design process, Children, interior design, preschool environments