Playing with Purpose: Using Serious Play to Enhance Participatory Development Communication

Lauren Leigh Hinthorne, Katy Schneider


In this article, we argue that serious play and participatory development communication suggest complementary—even synergistic—methodological guidelines for enhancing communication in research. We begin by illustrating how four core functions of serious play closely correspond with key participatory development communication objectives. This synergy is then illustrated by examining the application of two distinct techniques that successfully merge these methodological positions: participatory theater and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. Before concluding, we draw attention to important caveats that accompany this integrated research approach. This study focuses on international development research and practice; however, themes discussed throughout have broader relevance to the fields of health, community development, and education.

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