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Situated Learning & Immersive Storytelling in the Lab

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

What happens when immersive storytelling projects are developed in the context of a lab? How do students deal with the complexities brought about by the context of a lab? How might working in a lab influence the creative outcomes in storytelling? Are theses outcomes, for example, more immersive or innovative, more grounded in a scientific reality or socially relevant? 

These questions are central to this research project. The project is a continuation of earlier research into Situated Scenarios within the Situated Art and Design research group. The research is now extending into the Biobased Art and Design research group for further exploration. 

The plan was to apply previously-acquired knowledge directed towards facilitating and stimulating situated actions within students design processes in a number of workshops that were given in different (lab) environments. The creative outcomes of the workshops would then be analysed and compared to better understand the effect of the (lab) environments on those outcomes. Unfortunately, for the time being, these plans could only partly be carried out due to delays at the Material Incubator laboratory in connection with the Covid19 crisis. 


The preliminary results have made it clear that implementing situated learning requires clear choices within an educational programme. Where are you present as a tutor, and when do you allow students to discover the complexities of practice for themselves? What do you offer as scaffolding, to fill gaps in (procedural) knowledge among students? Developed adjustments will be introduced and evaluated next year. 

In consultation with the professor of the Situated Art and Design research group, it was decided to continue this research in the direction of a position paper, in which the importance of the use of situated learning within design education is made clear on the basis of literature and knowledge from previous studies. 


An advisory role within the PhD research of TU Delft/ Caradt researcher Hazal Ertürkan has led to a shared interest in the potential of applying digital storytelling to introduce an audience to living materials. This connection between the two researchers offers opportunities to explore the collaboration with the masters programme Ecology Futures, at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures. The connection also ensured that knowledge about immersive storytelling could be shared with product design departments at TU Delft. The use of immersive storytelling in product design is still relatively new for TU Delft. 

This research will remain positioned between the research groups Situated Art and Design and Biobased Art and Design in the coming period. The focus on situated learning that arose from the ambitions of the Situated Art and Design research group remains an interesting angle for the development of the Immersive Storytelling domain. And within the Biobased Art and Design research group, immersive storytelling is an important means of making the qualities of living materials tangible. 

Research questions

  1. How can situated learning work within the context of design education? How can we valorise the acquired knowledge in a context different learning environments?
  2. What influences can working in a lab have on the resulting creative outcomes? 

Ongoing project, started September 2016.

Principle investigator
Sarah Lugthart

Other researchers involved
Hazal Ertürkan (TU Delft/ Caradt)
Xandra van der Eijk (MIVC Ecology Futures/ Caradt)
Ollie Palmer (MIVC Parallel Worlds/ Caradt) 

Michel van Dartel and Elvin Karana

‘I’m interested in how we can implement situated learning within design education.’

Sarah Lugthart develops ethnographic methods to study immersive XR experiences and explores storytelling as a joint future-creation tool at Caradt. As a PhD candidate at the University of Porto, she blends theory and practice in immersive learning, contributing significantly to digital media and education.

Sarah Lugthart arrow


Lugthart, S., van Dartel, M., Quispel, A. (2017),  Plans versus Situated Actions in Immersive Storytelling Practices, arrowIn N. Nunes, I. Oakley, and V. Nisi, (Eds.) Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) 10690: Interactive Storytelling (pp. 38-45). Springer: Berlin.

Lugthart, S. & van Dartel, M. (2019). Teaching Situated Actions: A case study. In: M. Carmo (ed.) International Conference on Education and New Developments (END 2019)arrow Volume I. InScience Press: Portugal, pp. 202-206.

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

The research group Biobased Art and Design capitalises on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating these to a broader public. In doing so, the group aims to instigate and accelerate our widespread understanding, further development and usage of such materials. The group’s research approach encourages tangible interactions with the living organisms, such as algae, fungi, plants and bacteria, to explore and understand their unique qualities and constraints through diverse technical and creative methods taking artists, designers and scientists as equal and active partners in the material creation.

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