Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Discussion for Week 3 - Sept 10 - Design thinking and experiencing

For this week we begin to make the transition from what designers do to how they think and experience design.

Guiding questions:

  • What is distinctive about designerly ways of thinking? Can you think of other professions that might be similar?
  • What can studies of how people experience design tell you about what designers know?
    What do the Mann et al and Daly et al studies suggest about what designers know about design and how they know it? How do the ideas in these two papers compare to Cross?
  • In Daly et al an overview is provided of a study on ways of experiencing design – how do these categories (and their relationships) relate to your own experiences (including your observations of students, etc.)?

The readings are:

  • Cross, N. (2006). Designerly Ways of Knowing. London: Springer-Verlag. Chapter 1-2
  • Mann,L., Radcliffe, D. and G. Dall’Alba (2007). “Experiences of sustainable design among practicing engineers: Implications for engineering education.” Proceedings of the annual ASEE Conference, Hawaii, June.
  • Daly, S., Mann, L., and Adams, R. (2008). “A new Direction for Engineering Education Research: Unique Phenomenographic Results that Impact Big Picture Understandings.” To be published in the Proceedings of the Annual Australasian Engineering Education Conference, Australia. THIS IS A DRAFT - DO NOT CIRCULATE :)

Read the Daly et al piece after reading Mann et al - to get a deeper understanding of the research method and process.


CJ said...

Aside from engineering design, I think there are many other professions that incorporate several similar thinking patterns to those mentioned in Cross’s article “Designerly Ways of Knowing.” Architects, artists, interior designers, city developers, managers in many different fields, and product designers/developers face similar challenges to engineering designers and often think in similar ways to those described by Cross. While some of those professions and people are much more free in their expressions and probably less methodical in their approach, most of the people listed above “tackle ‘ill-defined’ problems,” are “solution-focused,” think constructively, and may be focused on “the arts of planning, inventing, making, and doing,” to focus on a few of the main “designerly” ways of knowing.

In reference to the article by Daly et al, I have observed and experienced several of the “categories of description of design across disciplines.” From my experiences with an Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design course at the sophomore/junior level, I think that many students view their design projects as decision-making (Category 1 described in the article). As it is described, they often devise several possible solutions and then choose what they see as the best solution to continue the design.

From a teaching point of view however, I think the attempt is made for the course to bring the translation and synthesis perspectives to students. The design processes that are taught and described seem to be somewhat of a combination of categories two and three, but I am not sure that students actually understand that or choose to work at those levels.

While I like the notion of “Design is freedom” in Category 6, I do not think that I have personally experienced this to a great degree. It seems like initially many design projects start with this concept to allow for idea generation and expansion of the problem definition. As the problem becomes more defined, however, the focus seems to shift to how the project should be finished (tasks, engineering analysis, schedules, etc.) and what needs to be done for the design to achieve the goals of the team.

§adieLovingtonNibblesworth said...

The ideas that “sustainable design” incorporate are broad and not always necessarily the best for the environment or society. I think that the overarching goals that authors had in mind were to categorize types of sustainable design, and better understand the role of the client and designer as related to each other and the environment or society at large.
One thing I was strangely attracted to was the divide between category three and category five in Mann, et al. From my background, a holistic approach isn’t as restricted as it is in the paper. Mann configures the holistic approach to be a function of the systematic design process itself; therefor, it is in no way a part of a wider, social context explicitly, but related to interactions of human beings and the system to be designed. Another way of putting this is that if a social problem influences the design and is a essential to addressing the client’s problem, then the holistic mindset requires the designer to stop and think at every stage of design about that social problem. The subtle difference between categories three and four is that four acknowledges that the client’s problem itself is intertwined with a larger social context. Also, the nature of the final design must not only benefit the client, but benefit the social fabric in general or “society.” In other words, in category four, society itself must deem that the solution somehow has increased value after the design process has taken place, whereas in category three, the client or designer would be the judges of the value.
Another thing I particularly focused on was the concept of design across disciplines being broken down into categories, which related Daly’s and Mann’s work together in my mind. It appeared to me that Daly et al was arguing for the same type of ven diagram-like framework proposed by Mann. If one compares the two, one finds that Daly’s arguments start with the formational part of design itself, whereas Mann focuses on the role of the designer in the context of the client-designer-society relationship. Whereas Mann noted particularities in the design process that come into play when the designer explicitly evokes the relationship between project and societal judgment of the design, Daly struggles with how engineers will better function in their roles with more exposure to interdisciplinary and group work.
From a purely qualitative point of view, I was enamored with some of the arguments in Cross. For me, Cross’s arguments hinge completely on classic arguments involving form following function or vice a versa. I am sure we will address this more in class and I’m already at the word limit!

Aidsa said...

This week readings have made me think deeper about design, especially in engineering education. From Cross chapters readings Several question came to my mind such as (1) how different is the design process in engineering compared to other fields?; (2) how well we, the educators, are preparing students to be “good designers”?; (3) how well are they prepared to design in industry (ill-structured problems)? There is a lot to discuss regarding this topic and I look forward to the discussion in class.

Also, in the article by Mann, I was interested in the concept of sustainable design. As the field of Bioengineering has emerged so much, I see a direct connection among both areas. Not only designing to meet some specs (technically speaking) but also to consider the implications to the environment, positive and negative. This is explicitly explained when the authors defined sustainable design as “a design philosophy that seeks to maximize the quality of the built environment, while minimizing or eliminating negative impact to the natural environment”.

Finally, there has been noted a difference of design processes among different professions. I agree totally that in engineering, students need to be exposed to ill-structured problems which are more related to the practical use of their knowledge. Even among disciplines in engineering, the considerations in the decision making process and iterations during the process will differ according to various conditions. This is why practice is so important in the engineering curriculum, but recently it seems to be reduced even more (science vs. practice).

Junqiu said...

Firstly, I would say the concept of “a third culture-design culture” gave a really good point in differentiating designing as an independent area just as science and humanity. Here, I want to address that design here can be identify with engineering—engineering is design. There are science ways of knowing, there are humanity ways of knowing and of course, there are designing ways of knowing.
How are we going to teach designing? Or in other words, what is the content of design. The author of “designerly ways of knowing” addressed many details about this aspect. Design process is more of synthetic process. The author identified three aspects of design: 1) developing innate abilities in solving real-world, ill-defined problems; 2) sustaining cognitive development in the concrete/iconic modes of cognition; 3) Offering opportunities for development of a wide range of abilities in nonverbal thought and communications.
My mainly point about the education of design is that how the pedagogy of engineering education should be changed in order to teach students those abilities. How are we going to assess student’s success in learning design? If the success experience of solving one design problem can be transformed into future design problem?

celia said...

Studies of how people experience design help us have a comprehensive understanding of designer’s perception towards design and how they act in the design process. E.g. In Mann’s research, by looking from Category 1 to Category 5, we find the character that engineers play in the design changes from an “impassive pure designer” to an “active and passionate human-being”, according to their different perceptions of their experience. Those who view design as solution finding (category 1) play an inactive role in the design process. Their design solutions are bounded by the clients’ declared requirements. Designers who consider sustainable design as reductionist problem (category 2) begin to construct the problem identification and requirement with their client. Designers who consider the problem solving from a holistic view (category 3) make each decision with particular carefulness and an awareness of how each decision influences the other element of the system. Designers who take design as a social network problem (category 4) solving try to frame the problem with in social context. In stead of staying on focusing on the problem itself, designers bring the issue to a larger picture. For those who view design as a way of life (category 5), design is not only a professional job but already melts into everyday life where all activities are engaged. Consequently, studies of how people experience design show that education in design should not only focus on the enhancement of skills and knowledge, but also stress students’ understanding of the internal part of design and their role as a designer in the whole process. Similar to this, Cross also suggests we must seek to interpret the core of design in terms of its intrinsic value in design education. Thus, he spends the first chapter exploring the nature of design, trying to identify the way engineers work and think and the kinds of problem they tackle.
Daly et al study sustainable design, design across disciplines and cross-disciplinary practice through the lens of phenomenography. Implications for engineering educator can be drawn from understanding the differences and similarities in the ways people experience in sustainable design, design across disciplines and cross-disciplinary practice. E.g. Educators must understand that students in a discipline will not have the same idea of design and they should help students shape their own perceptions of design. The research also leads to further questions about how cross-disciplinary practice compares to collaborative practice.

little-t truth said...

Designerly ways of thinking are not unique to engineering; however, the depth of design thinking is unique to designers, which exist primarily in the realm of engineering. Design thinking, at a simplistic level, is a construct for approaching problem-solving using a method that of identifying the problem, what is known/unknown, what is needed to solve, and engage in solving the problem. It is this level of design thinking that non-design engineers engage. This process is a simple cradle-to-grave approach that allows people to address common, daily problems that individuals face. Designers separate themselves here in several major ways in my opinion: (1) generation of a series of alternative solutions, (2) iterative redefining of the problem from the initially proposed issue, and (3) thinking in both abstract and concrete arenas in the process of generating a solution.

Studies that engage how people experience design can provide an insight to how design evolves as a process from novice to expert student and novice (expert student) to expert practitioner. In the articles there seems to be an underlying belief that a graduating student operates as an expert, on some level, upon graduation. The issue is that the training most designers receive as en engineering student is actually deficient since many faculties today, while they may know the design process, have never been practitioners in the “real world.” It is my opinion that to truly alter the design education of undergraduate students, part of the shift would have to come from more than understanding design education principles, but also employing faculty with extensive “real-life” design experiences to translate into the education process.

People’s individual experiences in design sheds light on the process of how designers emerge from their schooling and grow and develop their own design process based upon their experiences and training in the corporate world. It is this development that may speak volumes to what training/education developing designers requires for preparing them to be able to manipulate and develop their own design process and become expert designers at a faster pace. This opens the door to the sustainable design and other attributes from the Daly et al. article for consideration within the education process.