Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Week 7 - Analyzing design

Your assignment for this week is to analyze some data of experts designing (or their thoughts on design). All the data files are posted on Blackboard for this week - please do not share these data files with anyone - they are not for public use. Each file has the full collection (debrief, protocol, and representation). The idea is for each person to come to class and discuss their observations with their partner, then with the whole class. It is not expected that you work together outside of class.

The groups are:
- Aidsa and James are looking at the debriefs - pick 5 "meaty" ones that both of you will analyze
- Celia and George are looking at the protocols - pick 2 that both of you will analyze
- CJ and Junqiu are looking at the representations - pick 10 that both of you will analyze

Your goal:
- Analyze this data and present next week (1) your top 3 observations and (2) evidence in the data that supports your observations.
- Draw on the ideas we've been discussing in class to find a way of talking about design knowledge and thinking
- Since you are working in pairs, an additional goal is to explore two (potentially different) takes on the same set of data!

We will also discuss the paper by Craig (below) - which gives an overview of the ways people study design (as well as the strengths of these approaches and their limitations). For those of you who are working towards a final project on studying design, this is a good start place to formulate those ideas.

Craig, D.L. (2001). “Stalking Homo Faber: A Comparison of Research Strategies for Studying Design Behavior.” In C.M. Eastman, W.M. McCracken & W. Newstetter (eds.), Design Learning and Knowing: Cognition in Design Education. New York: Elsevier Press. Read for general ideas – and language.


§adieLovingtonNibblesworth said...

I loved this week's ONE reading! It was something that helped clarify a good many things I had been questioning about the methodologies behind some of the research processes used in papers we have been reading.
The first theme I liked about the paper was how the limitations of each method are directly related to how well the method mimics *real* design. What's funny to me is how situated studies, which are virtual replications of the design process-in-action, still have faults that are related to making the design simulation "real" enough.
Whether or not the lack of reality comes from an inability to fully comprehend the motives of those being studied, or whether it stems from a myopic and too artificial treatment of the design process, each method has its limitation(s).

CJ said...

I also found this week’s reading quite informative. I like how the authors present the methods and provide explanations and descriptions along with some of the common criticisms. It is also good that they recognize the overlaps among the strategies, noting that many (or most) studies do not “fit neatly into any one of the four strategies covered” (31). The authors also note, however, that some end up using a mix of strategies when they have also have a mix of goals. This was a good point because I thought it tied back well to some of our previous discussions about how it is difficult to place design knowledge, design problems, etc. into distinct categories.

As stated in the previous post, I agree that this article addressed several questions about some of the articles that we read in the past weeks. And tying back to replicating the design process, I found the discussions about situated studies in design especially interesting because the focus is on both the design activities and the social, cultural, and material context. While some researchers may try to put the design process in as realistic a context as possible, there are always some limitations with studying humans, their thought processes, and their interactions with others.

celia said...

This week's reading makes me understand why there are different strategies for studying design.
Besides think-aloud protocols, I remember I have read several papers using content analysis if my judgment and memory are right:)
I will say that researchers have to carefully choose a strategy to study design ,based on their particular purpose or motivation since each way has its own faults and merits.

celia said...

Analysing protocols is really not an interesting job as I imagined:(
At first I was reading word by word and finally I thought what I was tring to do is to pick up key words,like "I need", "I assume", "that means","I like""looking back"......

little-T truth said...

This week's reading provided a good overview and general insights to the usefulness and criticisms of four prominent design study methodologies. I really liked how the methodologies were presented as complementary pairs that answered the research question dependent on the restrictions/situations the design activity was situated or wished to evaluate.

The unique aspect of the four methodologies (protocol analysis, content analysis, process isolation and situated studies) are how contrived the problem or design environment has to be to assess an individual's understanding of a portion of the design process. In reality, the use of all methodologies, bridging the various cognitive theories and apporaches of the different methodologies, is required for a larger picture conversation.