Stakeholders values elicitation



Designers and Stakeholders

Design Phase:







This teaching activity provides students with the skills to perform stakeholder interviews focusing on their values. Through the activity, the students apply methods for performing value elicitation interviews. They also learn how to analyse and explain stakeholder values, as well as contrast perspectives and understand that what people think of a product is subjective.


While students are usually introduced to methods for the elicitation of design requirements from diverse stakeholders, these methods do not necessarily address the stakeholders’ underlying values. This teaching activity helps students to plan and perform elicitation activities with stakeholders that address values, and to analyse the results.

In the teaching activity the students practice the skills to plan and perform interviews with diverse stakeholders to elicit their values related to a specific product, system, or service, or to a set of similar products, systems, or services.

The activity is based on the Socratic questioning structure (Robinson, 2017), and the repertory grid and the laddering technique (Kelly, 1991) where the stakeholders are asked about their appreciation of one or more products, systems, or services. This is done by structuring the answers from the interviewees on three levels:

  • attributes (e.g., ‘light’, ‘hexagonal shape’, or ‘soft texture’),
  • functions (e.g., ‘simple to use’, ‘not expensive’), and
  • values (e.g., ‘control’, ‘ownership’, or ‘comfort),

By doing so, the students gain a deeper understanding of how values relate to consequences and attributes.

The teaching activity could also be used as an evaluation method to understand whether a designed product, system or service fulfills the goal to support certain values according to the stakeholders. In this case, the students should have identified and described the intended values of the design before performing this activity. At the end of the activity, they will compare their intended values with the values as experienced by the stakeholders.


After the teaching activity students will be able to:

  • explain that underlying values cannot be addressed immediately,
  • apply methods for performing value elicitation interviews using one or more products, systems, or services,
  • plan a value elicitation activity with stakeholders in other projects,
  • analyse and explain the outcomes of a value elicitation interview and describe their findings,
  • contrast perspectives and subjectivity in product appreciation.


  • Arrange settings for group work (suggested size of the groups: 4 students).
  • Briefly explain the protocol of the interview method to the students (described in the next section), Socratic questioning (Robinson, 2017) and the repertory grid and the laddering technique (Kelly, 1991).
  • The introduction should be as concrete as possible and should focus on the activity rather than on the theory of the Socratic structure: the understanding of the relevance of the exercise usually takes place through practicing.
  • Print the Value elicitation worksheet and hand out to the student groups (at least one copy per group).
  • Gather one product, system or service or 2-3 of the same type in the case of comparison, e.g., 2-3 types of pens, coffee cups, mobile phones, an advertisement poster for a service, or a website.
  • Walk through the process of the activity with the students: instructions, timeplan, worksheet, and expected outcome.


The teaching activity can be done either during teaching time or as homework. If in class, the students will interview their classmates.

The activity is divided into three steps.

Step 1 - Setting up:

  • If this activity is done as homework, the student explains the protocol to the interviewee. If it is done in class, the interviewees will already know the protocol.
  • If the product, system or service can be tried out (which is the preferred situation), then the interviewee should be able to try it for a few minutes (with strictly equal time for each product, system or service in case of comparison), e.g., 2 minutes for a pen, also providing a sheet of paper to suggest experiencing writing. If the product, system or service is not available or does not exist yet, then a picture or a rendering should be provided.
  • Once the interviewee has “experienced” the product, system or service, it is placed in front of the interviewee again. The interviewee is asked if s-/he likes the product, system or service or not (in case of a comparison, s-/he is asked which one is most preferred and which one is least preferred).

Step 2 - Interview:

  • The student asks the interviewee WHY s-/he appreciates the product, system or service (or not).
  • All answers provided by the interviewee are used by the student to ask WHY the interviewee has provided such answers. The aim is to further explore the reasons for the answer. This is done iteratively. The exercise may last about 15 minutes if it is done during teaching time. If it is done as homework, the interview may last as long as time allows and as long as it seems that valuable insights are being generated.
  • The links between keywords explicitly made by the interviewee are visually represented by lines denoting the relation between these WHYs (see the black continuous lines in the example in the Value elicitation worksheet). Each keyword should appear only once, even if the interviewee mentions it many times. In such cases, many links may reach the same keyword.

Step 3 - Analysis:

  • Once the interview is done, still using the same Value elicitation worksheet, the student creates relations (dashed lines in the in the example in the Value elicitation worksheet) by connecting values (Level 3: Values) and design attributes (Level 1: Attributes), design functionalities (Level 2: Functions), or both, following the links drawn during step 7. Based on these created relations (one may consider that the black lines are the paths the dashed ones can take), the student can explain how certains values are embodied in the design attributes, following the dashed lines.
  • If a few people (at least 2) have been interviewed on the same artefact, then the student can contrast the interview results to point out the subjective variety in value association. This demands four sessions of interviews: during two sessions, a student is an interviewer; during two sessions, the same student is an interviewee.
  • In case the teaching activity is conducted in class, the teacher may walk around during the interviews to make sure that:
    • questions are asked respecting the Socratic questioning structure (it is good to regularly remind the students that non-Socratic questions are influencing the interviewee and therefore create a bias),
    • the sheets are properly filled out (the three levels are clearly distinct, and so should be the categorisation of the keywords),
    • the links between keywords are clearly drawn as well throughout the interview, not to forget any.
  • During the analysis, it is good to question students about paths on the worksheets (i.e., mental constructs) rather than keywords. Questioning the paths will lead to discussing both the value and the way these values emerged.

  • After the activity, the teacher may address one or two interviews as clear examples of value elicitation through Socratic interviews. This helps the students to remember the major elements of the approach.


    To assess whether the intended learning outcomes were attained by the teaching activity the following assessment activities can be carried out (in class or after class).


    Assess students' learning by asking them to perform a round robin brainstorming activity (formative assessment) reflecting on the advantages and difficulties of performing a value elicitation activity with stakeholders, the different perspectives of the stakeholders and how this is expressed in their appreciation of a product.

    Assess students' learning by asking them to perform a peer feedback (authentic assessment) on each other’s filled-in worksheets focusing on their ability to apply methods for value elicitation interviews and allowing stakeholders to reveal their values.


    In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:

    • giving concrete examples of unexpected insights or results of performing value elicitation interviews and allowing stakeholders to reveal their values,
    • discussing which relation between design attributes/design functionalities/value that has been established during the activity is most intriguing/interesting to them,
    • analysing and explaining design attributes/design functionalities/value relations among interviewees.


    On the repertory grid technique

    Kelly, George A. (1991). The psychology of personal constructs. London: Routledge

    On socratic interview

    Robinson, Shannon Marie (2017). Socratic Questioning: a Teaching Philosophy for the Student Research Consultation. Retrieved 2021-04-20 at



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