Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Week 10: Design as situated (situated cognition and reflective practice)

The readings for this week introduce the idea of situativity (or situated cognition) and then explore this in the context of design (via reflective practice and two examples of studies).

Everyone should read Greeno and Schön (preferably read Greeno then Schon) and consider the guiding questions below:
  • Greeno, J. (1998). “The situativity of knowing, learning, and research.” American Psychologist, 53, pp. 5-26. Questions: What is situated cognition and how does it relate to cognition? What are some of the implications of situated cognition (as compared to cognition) in terms of kinds of knowledge, kinds of learning environments, and kinds of research?
  • Schön, D. A. (1993). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action Basic Books, New York. Question: What is reflective practice and how is it an example of situated cognition? How does it related to some of the ideas we've discussed in class?

Respond to the blog by choosing one of the papers below. Adams et al focus on reflective practice as seen in individual designers, Valkenburg focuses on a team of designers. For both, consider: what are the implications of a "reflective practice" lens for understanding design knowing and learning?

  • Adams, R. S., Turns, J. and Atman, C. J. (2003). “Educating effective engineering designers: The role of reflective practice”. Design Studies, Special Issue on Designing in Context, 24(3), pp. 275-294.
  • Valkenburg, R. (1998). The Reflective Practice of Design Teams. Design Studies, 19, 3, pp. 249-271.

9 comments:

celia said...

I'll pick up Adams.

CJ said...

I'll read about reflective practice of design teams (Valkenburg).

celia said...

Greeno states at the beginning that the main distinguishing characteristic of the situative perspective is its theoretical focus on interactive systems that are larger than the behavior and cognitive processes of an individual agent. Situative strategy is a combination of interactional and informational analysis of activity, with its focus on intact multiperson and system,instead of individual.

Because the situative perspective offers "a more general framing, in which significant aspects of activity evolve in processes of co-construction and negotiation between participants and other systems in situation", it has some important implications for learning. Situative principles tend to characterize learning in terms of "more effective participation in practices of inquiry and discourse that include constructing meaning of concepts and uses of skills".Greenon argues that both the behaviorist skill-oriented and cognitive understanding-oriented perspectives can be included in practices on the basis of situative principles , which value students' learning to participate in inquiry and sense making.

Schon distinguishes "knowing in action" "knowledge in action“ ”reflection in action" "reflection on action". And he provides us with an example of reflective designng. In general,the design process is a reflective conversation within the situation that designers are shaping.
Adams' study based on Schon's model of reflective practitioner. Adams mainly discusses how the two important descriptors of a reflective practitioner:1)recognising the importance of problems setting and 2)listening to a situation's back-talk to their previous study. What intrigues me is how adams argues that measures of iterative acivity may be characteristic of listening and responding to a situation's back talk.

Aidsa said...

I read Valkenburg, Aidsa

little-T truth said...

I will read Adams et al.

§adieLovingtonNibblesworth said...

So to properly discuss Valkenburg, I'm going to cherry pick from Celia's discussion of Schön, since it is Schön who has directly influenced Valkenburg's work.

The idea of Valkenburg's paper is to show how to apply Schön's work to a more generalized audience. In the paper by Schön referred to in Valkenburg, Valkenburg notes that only focuses on "individual efforts or process characteristics." Another complaint about Schön's incompleteness from the Petra/Quist interaction lies with the fact that reflective practice part of Schön's work seems to lie mostly within the realm of the teacher reflecting on an interview with a student or, more precisely, "that it describes a conversation between a student and a tutor." Valkenburg makes note that the type of reflective practice observed in the Petra/Quist experiment contains explicit reflection, but no reflection-in-action; merely the reflection-on-action on the tutor's behalf.

From Valkenburg's point of view, the general problems a more grounded and explicitly-defined reflective process presents when viewing a designer or potential designer in work would provide more empirical results to back Schön's work, clarify some murky terminology, operationalize reflective practices, and shift towards a more generalizable framework of reflective practices (p.6).


As far as the positive aspects of reflective practice as a lens for understanding knowing and learning, it appears that teams yield some encouraging results. To start with, some teams explicitly name issues they feel deserve attention. One group actually diverted attention from any *one* of their subtasks if they felt it was getting too much attention, in order to spread-out their time between what they felt was important. Another team actually framed and re-framed their design tasks and used this as a tool to revisit tasks they felt were previously concretely defined.


These implications, when viewed in light of Valkenburg's research on design teams in her paper, are powerful. To start, what Valkenburg concludes is that in the realm of knowing and learning, *no* possible construct is suitable concerning "design specific notation." Furthermore, there seems to be no definitive way of *how* to identify a frame, which is sinister since Valkenburg believes that all coders "know" what a frame is when they see it!

CJ said...

I will build a little bit on Sadie’s comments here in discussing Valkenburg. One of the issues mentioned in the section “Criticism of the reflective practice view” which I found interesting is that of “Schön’s lack of precise terminology.” While the author attempts to clearly define the terminology used in the article and other relevant terms, comments are also presented about the difficulty of precisely defining terminology. I think it was interesting that the author made such comments about Schön’s inconsistencies in speaking about the different terminologies, but then later stated that it is indeed difficult to create precise definitions and there can still be misinterpretations.

This also brings up the issue of semantics, and the role it plays in the reflective process. While I am not sure that semantics were explicitly discussed in the article, Valkenburg states “Reflection is at least in some measures conscious, although it need not occur through the medium of words” (2). I was not sure in what ways the reflection would occur if it were not through words because I think that even when the reflection is internal, we think using words.

Schön also discusses language in terms of design. When discussing the analysis of the protocol in chapter three and the reflections expressed between Quist and Petra, Schön states “Quist makes his moves in a language of designing which combines drawing and speaking. In this language, words have different roles” (95). He continues to describe the different languages used when communicating during the design and reflection processes. Communication is clearly an important aspect of design, but it is difficult to characterize when verbal reflection is necessary, and when reflection-in-action that has not been verbally expressed is sufficient for improving design.

Aidsa said...

Valkenburg identified a descriptive model for design as reflective practice which represents what designers do when they work together. He explained that designers work by “naming relevant factors in the design situation”. Then they frame the situation such that they can move toward a solution and reflect about those moves. He defined reflection as a “conscious and rational activity” that can lead to reframing the problem, making new moves, and attending new issues when necessary, that leads to satisfactory results. Based on this, reflective practice consists of four activities: naming, framing, moving, and reflecting. Valkenburg reflects on these ideas based on Schön’s research and related them to the design process. He tried to work on what he established are some weaknesses on Schön’s research: inadequate empirical evidence, lack of precise technology, making reflective practice to work, and paradox between generalization and specification.

At the same time, I believe Valkenburg’s work relate to Greeno’s ideas about situative theory. According to Greeno, the situative perspective “emphasizes aspects of problem spaces that emerge in activity, the interactive construction of understanding, and people’s engagement in activities”. It relates to the reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action established by Schön and applied by Valkenburg into a design context. According to Schön, reflection-in-action refers to thinking about doing something while doing it; reflection-on-action involves “thinking on patterns of action, on the situations in which they are performing”. There are many ideas from this week’s readings, it will be interesting to hear about them in our classroom conversations.

Junqiu said...

I like the idea of Greeno's "learning in a situative view is hypothesized to be becoming attuned to constraints and affordances of activity and becoing more centrally involved in the practices of a community". This perspective brings pedagogical application in the designing an engineering curriculum. Traditional curriculum focused a lot on learning as an individual in cognitive and behavior space. In situative perspective,traditional learning content of pieces of information will be replaced with learning solving designing problems; lecturing will be replaced with more interactive and situative based and assessment will also be more of reflect on action or reflect in action.