Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Niki Davis


This dissertation is an inquiry into the apparent absence of participatory approaches in instructional design (ID). It explores the question "what happens when ID becomes participatory?" with the help of three articles. The first article proposes a new approach in ID called Participatory ID, which incorporates principles and techniques of participatory design (PD), a software design approach that calls for genuine user involvement in the design, development, implementation, and maintenance of educational technology. Article 2 explores the feasibility of such an approach in higher education by studying an authentic case of participatory design and development of an electronic portfolio system by its users, namely, by Ph.D. students and faculty members. The design team consisted of 8 Ph.D. students, 1 faculty member, and 1 systems analyst at a large Midwestern US university. The study used qualitative methods to identify activities and processes invented by the design team members to satisfactorily complete their design task. The study also explored ways in which these activities reflected PD principles. Findings indicated five key factors that characterized the design process: (1) maintaining transparency of work processes, (2) continued invoking of the design ethos, (3) maintaining a sense of community, (4) embedding design in user context, and (5) recursive design. Article 3 presents a microanalysis of the participatory ID process described in article 2. It studies the use of language in user-designer conversation during design work. The goal of this article was to understand how design team members used language to negotiate power differences that typically arise when multiple stakeholders participate in a design project. The study used Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 1995), a research approach from sociolinguistics and influenced by critical theory, to examine user-designer conversation from the first year of the electronic portfolio design project. Analysis indicated a strong use of modality (words such as "would," "could," "need to"), cohesion ("and," "therefore," "then"), and intertextuality (repeating or revoicing other people's utterances), which seems to have helped create a non-threatening atmosphere and support a critical, democratic, and constructive environment for creative design work.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Rema Nilakanta



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

168 pages