Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 12 - Situated Cognition and Sketching

This marks our last week into theories of human learning and how design researchers draw on these to try to understand what designers do, what they know, and how they learn.

The Fish and Scrivener article (9 pages!!!) is the "high level" read that describes how sketching and visual imagery helps us think. The Goldschmidt article (1991) is a well known paper that describes how design sketching and visual imagery supports design thinking. Everyone should read these two.

Half the group should read the Blanco article and half the Goldschmidt and Smolkov article - as an example of applying these ideas to design activity. The Blanco article looks at how sketching is used in collaborative design. The other article looks at how visual stimuli influences designing.


Kat said...

I'll do the smolkov one.

Kat said...

I enjoyed this weeks readings very much. Actualy they managed to take me back in time (especially the Fish and Scrivener one) Two years age I was in havng a discussion with a german project manager of Sony. The disussion was about a new playing machine they were disigning, and in which they were trying to implement educational features too. The interesting thing in this discussion was that the project manages was absolutely convinced that we live in a new era in which paper and pencil are completely useless, and that the ultimate success of the 21st century engineers would be to train the next generation to communicate peperless starting from the PreK age. I was back then really trying to explain to him that the use of pencil adresses completely different skils that will never be achieved by the mere use of keyboards, but i was totally lacking the vocabulary :) So i think this weeks readings managed to fill this gap and gave me the arguments i needed regarding comparisons like the one above. But doesn;t this ultimately takes the discussion back on "how much more interdisciplinary knowledge does an engineer need in order to be a good one"?

tforin said...

I'll read the smolkov too.

tforin said...

I find it really interesting seeing the connections between the two Goldschmidts. Seeing the conversation of As/That within the sketching process made me think more about the iteration process and that its perhaps more involved when we take into account the unseen iterations in sketches or in the mind. I'm reminded of a verbal protocol study I took part in, since the collective drawings of a solar oven I made represented a different iteration. I think I was heavily engaged in the As/That conversation in my mind since I was frequently changing the design factors to the assigned task.

The thought that visual stimuli affects the design process, is so tantalizing. I would go further to say that aural stimuli also affect the way things are designed. Look at dancers and architects who are influenced by the sounds they hear. Going back to the solar oven, had I not seen what one looks like, I might not have been able to make a successful representation in my sketches. However, I believe that if I never saw one, I would have engaged in a deeper mental conversation about what constitutes a successful solar oven design. I'm curious, does that play out more in engineering undergrads? If we told our students to design X, what would happen if they had no experience with X? The last Goldschmidt paper reminds me a lot about how we discussed that constraints can limit the creativity of a design but yet it reinforces the practicality of a design. It was interesting to see that conversation play from the end of stimuli rather than constraints.

michihcim said...

I also read the Goldschmidt and Smolkov article.
Goldschmidt’s (1991) way of describing the dialects of sketching as “seeing as” and “seeing that” and also as the transformation between “descriptive” and “depictive” fits my intuitive sense of how sketches might work to aid cognition. She mentioned that the sketching system is unique to the architecture discipline but I wonder if it works, how differently it might be, also with engineering. In the “fishbowl” design task we do in class, I feel like using visual aid not only helped us to explain our ideas to others, but at the same time provided feedback channel to myself so I could examine my ideas and generate some other thoughts.
I like it that Fish and Scrivener mentioned the use of pencil and paper allows ambiguity and gives the designer the opportunity to explore. Working with paper and pencil and with materials provides the kind of experience that simulation doesn’t. On the side note, maybe this explains why I think working with material seems more “artsy” than working with computer.
Can anyone explain to me what “percept” means? What forms is it in (at least in what ways was Fish and Scrivener using the word)?

AD said...

I'm in the process of reading Blanco, but I'm going to go ahead and leave my comments on the other two papers. I also really enjoyed these readings. It was nice to get around to something that seemed a little more concrete.
One discussion I found most interesting was Fish & Scrivener's discussion of how when you decide to move to computer-aided drawings, you're really locking yourself into many aspects of the design at that point - size, orientation. It's more difficult to be creative and play with options when you're confined to a black screen and skinny white lines.
Another F&S discussion I enjoyed was the difference between descriptions and depictions. This made me think about working in teams - if you're trying to describe a concept you have only with words, a teammate may make their own mental interpretation of what you're describing and it might be better or worse than what you had in mind. If you're drawing a concept when you're trying to describe something, you're going to really define that object and eliminate some of the ambiguity and potential for creative influence by the listener.