Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Week 12: Design expertise

We'll be revisiting the "design knowledge" space with a focus on expertise. We're also transitioning to a instructional approach where the focus is on creating personas (short example, long example, wikipedia example) that help link past discussions and readings to a goal of understanding design learning (and of course, supporting design learning).

A persona is an "archetypal" person that represents the needs of larger group of people in terms of their goals and personal characteristics. Although they are fictitious they are based on knowledge of real people. Personas are a technique used in design (particularly user-centered design) to explore user motivations, expectations, and goals. We are using them in this class as a way to relate research on design knowing and learning to the practice of educating design learners. By seeking to understand design learners we can better understand needs for design education. In other words, it's a way to identify learning goals and learning challenges that might be anticipated.

The readings are:

  • An overview: Cross, N. (2001). “Design cognition: Results from protocol and other empirical studies of design activity.” In C.M. Eastman, W.M. McCracken & W. Newstetter (eds.), Design Learning and Knowing: Cognition in Design Education. New York: Elsevier Press. How do novices and expert designers differ? Going back to the first weeks of school, what does this say about the nature of design knowledge?

  • An example from the design data we've been using all term long: Atman, C.J., Adams, R.S., Mosborg, S., Cardella, M. E., Turns, J. and J. Saleem (2008). “Engineering Design Processes: A Comparison of Students and Expert Practitioners.” Journal of Engineering Education.

Drawing on either of these: imagine a particular design learner (e.g., freshman, senior, graduate in industry for a couple of years, etc.):

  • Who is this learner? What's their story (age, background, kinds of experiences related to design, likes and dislikes about design, motivations, beliefs about design)? Feel free to be creative here - provided you can answer the next question!
  • What do the readings suggest about what this learner might know about (or need to know about) design? Why (draw on past readings and discussion)?

Week 11: Follow up to evocative objects and environments

For those interested in Turkle's work follow this link.

For those interested in expanding the idea from evocative objects (things that help you think) to evocative spaces (spaces that help you think) follow this link.