Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 6 - Sept 30 Thought Questions

This week's readings focus on design as a social process. As you will notice, exploring design as a social process often involves observation and ethnographic approaches. For some of you this may push even harder on your ideas of researcher bias - keep in mind that there is bias in all research - and that different methods allow different vantages point for investigation. Focus on how the method reveals something about design knowledge, and how the authors substantiate their findings.

Next week we are going to do a "fishbowl" activity - where half the class will do a design project and the other half will be researchers studying them. Think about which role you want (observer or observee) - and come prepared to discuss:

(1) How do the authors talk about design as a social process (and how can this help you make sense of what you observe for the fishbowl activity)?
(2) What insights do they bring to our question "what do designers know and how do they come to know it"?
(3) How do they study design? What are the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interesting conversation on the PhD in Design Listserve

Below is something shared on the PhD in design listserve...what do you think is going on?

Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2009 09:24:40 -0400
From: Charles Burnette <
Subject: Re: exceeding the brief

A similar experience. I presented a group problem solving technique at three different Universities. At the distinguished research university (The University of Pennsylvania) the student's questioned everything thoroughly and intelligently but never entered into the process. At the more vocationally focussed university (Drexel) the students required much more guidance, were more rule bound, and got to a solution much more tentatively. At the art based university (The University of the Arts) the students entered into the process readily, explored it creatively and came out with the best outcomes (in my judgment). Each group seemed to manifest the nature of their institution and education. Design education clearly biases students to
seek creative solutions (hopefully with sensitivity, intelligence, rigour, etc.) It is no surprise that they behave as they do. Similarly, communication students seek to find an expression understood and acceptable to the communicants involved. But I have never met a "well behaved traditional art student" that manifested that view! Their own goals and understandings usually guide their behavior, or so I believe. Hopefully, as design education gains a seat in the University and becomes more user oriented it will become better at contextualized communication - yet still hang on to its creative edge.