University of Manitoba (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3557-3563
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
The ability to reflect on one’s problem-solving process is a cornerstone of contemporary design education. Yet students are often at a loss to describe and communicate this process. This paper reviews a methodological framework developed to overcome this limitation.

The intent of the framework is to help students develop reflective practices by assessing the inter-relationship between methods, strategies, intentions, and outcomes. The framework allows the identification of personal methodological patterns as well as comparison with peers. In addition, it provides insights on related pedagogical concerns such as the impact of technology on problem-solving practices.

The paper begins with a review of the methodological framework elaborated through three years of implementation in environmental design studios. Articulated around the categories of tasks, tools, and products this framework is built in part on Bryan Lawson's categorization of design activities and skills under the headings of formulation, moving (ideation), representation, selection, and reflection (Lawson 2006). Using a digital template, students recorded the sequence of tasks undertaken over the duration of a project, the relative amount of time dedicated to each task, and the tools used for conducting these tasks. This was then supplemented with illustrations of representative outcomes. Students were further asked, at the end of the project, to provide a second template with these illustrations adjusted to reflect the relative impact of specific tasks on the project outcome.

Results from this experimentation support the view that the design process is iterative and largely specific to each individual. They also indicate that students tend to reflect on the strategic value of technological alternatives for various design tasks and generally choose digital media for ideation and representation tasks but non-digital media for formulation. Finally, while visualization and 3D modeling technology is readily used for the ideation and selection tasks it appears that much of the evaluation tasks are conducted simultaneously to the representational ones, typically with two-dimensional graphic design software. One implication of this last observation is that many students end up testing their spatial propositions using two-dimensional representational tools, effectively maintaining an analogical disconnect between the symbolic constructs employed in design thinking and the ecological, socio-cultural, and material factors informing our experience of places.
Pedagogy, Problem-based learning, Design process, Technology.