Dr Ing. Philip Farrugia, Dr Ing. Owen Casha and Mr Emanuel Balzan, attended the 15th International Design Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference was held from 21 to 24 May 2018. They presented a paper titled “Evaluating the Impact of Design Affordances in Preschool Children’s Toy Preferences”.

The paper discussed the importance for children to acquire and improve their skills through play. A study with preschool children has been carried out in order to establish, from a product design perspective, how the innate characteristics of toys trigger the toy preferences. It was found that the children’s preference is presided by the play value that is perceived. By exploiting hedonic and pragmatic qualities, designers can embed persuasive qualities in toys. A framework for toy design was proposed as a model for a computer-aided support tool that helps toy designers reach their design goal.

The research was performed with 3- to 4-year-old children at the Attard Primary School and the University of Malta’s Childcare Centre – it-Tajra. Dr Andrew Wodehouse from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow supported this research.

The research is financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) through the Fusion Technology Development Programme 2016 (R&I-2015-042-T). Special thanks go to all the parents and children who participated in this study.

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