Friday, October 16, 2009

Week 9 - Oct 21 - Design tasks engage design thinking

So - we've been unpacking "design" - now we're going to look at design tasks to understand what makes design unique from "non-design" (if we can say that). This will also be our first foray into cognitive theories - here the idea is that the nature of design tasks engage particular kinds of thinking. All three readings speak to this idea:
  • Goel and Pirolli take a cognitive view - and test out their idea using verbal protocol analysis (this is the paper that can be a bit tough to read - focus on the the table/charts of 12 features)
  • Jonassen talks a continuum of more cognitive to situated cognition perspectives
  • Dorst brings in a summary of "wicked" problems to understand why we see differences in how people approach design


Eric Holt Design said...

I liked the introduction of the Goel and Pirolli paper. I think, therefore I design, so therefore I am.

I also enjoyed the stats that 80% of the construction cost are determined by the first 20% of the design. This has been so true in construction, but technology is changing these stats and the world of design. Information Modeling, 3D, or virtual design is allowing the rapid assimilation and evaluation of design information. The artifact can be “designed”, evaluated, iterated, reiterated, with feedback from the world, and changed before its even produced. The information has always been there. Technology is changing how the information is handled and processed, greatly speeding it up. Will this will change the design process, how design is done, how it’s taught, and how its researched? I think it will. Instead of training architects, we are training 3D modelers. Design problems are created to train both design principles and software expertise. How will this affect research in the future?

tforin said...

After reading Dorst, I'm really curious as to whether or not it is worth the effort to define what design is. He gave mention to plenty of theories, all of which I said "yeah I can see that", followed by "but what about..." If you look at design as a synthesis of ideas, then couldn't all theories be applied to a person's interpretation of design. It'll be like a buffet of ideas and you decide what you want to have on your plate. We all had our individual ideas on design at the beginning of class and we saw that there were elements to each that we could agree with. We could use those elements to improve our current model of design. I think that there is no right or wrong way to make a theory of design. If it works for you (meaning you and your users are satisfied with the design and its consequences), it works. Won't we always be missing some element of design when making up these theories.

I also don't agree with the way Dorst classifies an Expert. It implies that the Expert works alone since all the framing and reasoning occurs implicitly. But the Expert has to work with others and he/she has to communicate what is going on with the design so that the group performs well. His definition also implies that the Expert has some sort of ultimate status in design, knows all and sees all. The Expert still has to negotiate between disciplines and has to do exploration to see how the design can be improved and how it holds up to users.And where is the talk of ethics?? There's all this talk about the levels of expertise where figuring out what is truly important in the design allows you to move up the levels. Well what is important to a designer? If it's making a buck, watch out! If it's about making the greatest positive impact on people while reducing the amount of negative impact to the environment, watch out! These are all ethical issues that will affect the consequences of the designers actions and yet none of it is hinted at.

Laura said...

I had some problems with Dorst after reading the introductory paragraph, when he said we would explore design problems as "underdetermined problems." Surely there are some instances when problems are not underdetermined? I know I've had test problems or even problems in "real life" that have been overspecified, with too much information given, much of it unnecessary to solve the major dilemma. Even when he broke down problem types into (partly) determined, undetermined, and underdetermined, I was still skeptical.

But thinking about this more, it's actually a never-ending cycle, I think. I had already decided for myself that a design solution can never be "optimal" - there will always be ways in the present, or in the future, to better assess and solve a design problem. Therefore, does that mean a design problem is always underdetermined? Because if you are unable to come up with an optimal solution, that maybe means there are some aspects of the problem statement that you are unable to reach or consider.

Or, to take it even further, should the assessment of the problem statement (as underdetermined or otherwise) be completely segregrated from the assessment of the problem solution (as "optimal" or not)?

Kevin said...

A thought on each of the readings:

Dorst implied that the more emotionally attached a designer, the more expertise the designer has. I understand where he is coming from, but I don’t really buy it (anybody watch “House”?). Some people just like the puzzle of the design but really don’t care how it is used, yet they could still make some good designs.

I appreciate Goel trying to clarify the line between design and non-design problems, but aren’t there some non-design problems that do not have fully identified constraints and problems? I still have a hard time considering ‘writing a story’ or ‘painting a picture’ to be a design yet there is no limit to the constraints or approaches a person can take.

Jonassen seems to imply that the most ill-structured problems are those for which building a consensus is the most difficult. But can’t some problems have easily defined/structured solutions, yet still have a hard time reaching a consensus? Using Jonassen’s definition, legislating hate crime protections would be a dilemma or an ill-structured problem (based on a lack of consensus in Congress), yet wanting to prevent hate crimes seems like a straightforward problem.

Bethany Fralick said...

I thought the levels of expertise that Dorst defined were interesting. I am always intrigued by different peoples view because I am so interested by it. I think his definitions of proficient and expert could use a little more description. Maybe this lack of definition is because so many designers do not fall into these categories. Is it easier to describe the others because we encounter the type more often?

michihcim said...

Some thoughts here and there..
**Thinking design problems as evolving and can be decomposed of local problem helps in thinking about the type of “problem” design details. Jonassen et al. put design as a distinctive type of problem. Depending on the local problem at hand, design can be any of the other 11 problem types. However, it is a bit unclear what the relationship between the “local” problem and the “whole” problem is like… (Dorst said it is “abstract” =p). It seems like contextual, situational, personal value and judgement comes with the uniqueness of design problems..
**Is it fair that I put well-structured problem, positivism, objective on one end of the spectrum, and ill-structured problem, phenomenology, subjective on the other? I have a hard time thinking that reflection doesn’t happen at **I am interested in seeing real examples of using “likography”. How people think about studying these quite amorphous things with organization amazes me.

AD said...

Thankfully this week I read some of the posts before I read the Dorst paper and had some things to think about as I went through.

Responding to Laura's comments, I kind of reworded Dorst's threefold composition of design problems into:
1) "Must-haves": You cannot create the artifact you are designing without these characteristics. For example, if you're installing a well for water anywhere in the world you're going to need to dig a hole of some depth and have a way to convey the water to the surface.
2) "What's appropriate": So here you take into consideration more constraints. You need to make a well, but maybe it needs to be in Indiana or maybe in Tunisa. You would build it very differently depending on the soil, available materials, skilled labor, etc.
3) "Creative freedom": This is where you make your mark on the artifact. Maybe you add a feature that was not specified in the constraints, but it makes the item more user-friendly, or aesthetically pleasing.

Needless to say, for now I'm fully subscribed to Dorst's notion of the threefold design problem.

Kat said...

Reading these three papers (the Dorst and the jonassen seemed to connect more with eachother but the other fitted in a slightly different way in the converstation too) one question comes in my mind. when talking about ill-structured problems in the REAL world, how ill can these problems be, at least in the area of Software Engineering? We say that the ill-structured problems can bring multiple solutions to the table, but in reality, I know i want the solution that is also faster while processed from the computer, since this is the definition of optimization in EE. Don't restrictions like this automatically turn every ill-structured problem to a well-defined problem? And same to the other engineer's schools, don't I always have the cost and environmental restrictions? Does this mean that an engineer will never work on an ill-structured problem in his life? And if so, why are we focusing on these so much then?