Participatory design of agricultural decision support tools: taking account of the use situationsReport as inadecuate

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Agronomy for Sustainable Development

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 899–910

First Online: 04 April 2012Accepted: 08 March 2012


Although many agronomic researchers currently focus on designing and developing decision support systems, they rarely discuss the methodological implications of such work. In this paper, with the examples of two decision support systems, we propose methodological elements for conducting the participatory design of such tools. Our proposition aims at building dialogue between designers and users but also between humans, tools and work situations. We focus on two main stages: first, a diagnosis of the uses of decision tools within current working situations and, second, the use of a prototype of the tool under design. The first stage serves to characterize the diversity of uses and user situations in order to determine the tool’s flexibility and to identify new concepts for tools. The second stage involves setting up an arrangement whereby a prototype of the decision support tool, open to amendment, can be used in work-like situations and then discussed during debriefing sessions among designers and users. This stage mediates dialogue between all the participants and allows them to develop cross-learning processes. We discuss how these two stages allow for a coordinated expansion of three spaces: the concept space, the knowledge space and the use space. We then discuss the need for such participatory design processes described as dialogical design processes and their contribution to produce new agronomic knowledge supporting a more sustainable agriculture. Finally, we point out a need to provide more opportunity for scientific discussion on participatory design approaches and on design methodology more broadly within the agronomic community.

KeywordsParticipatory design Decision support tool Dialogical design Yield gap analysis Genotype × environment interaction Fungicide treatment  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Marianne Cerf - Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy - Lorène Prost - Jean-Marc Meynard


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