Exploring novice designers’ reflective thinking in solving design problems
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Design tasks are omnipresent in our everyday lives. When solving design problems, designers engage in reflective conversations with the artifacts to be designed. Previous research shows that reflective thinking is one of the critical factors in solving design problems. Nevertheless, very few empirical studies were conducted to thoroughly inspect designers’ reflection, and examine the influence of their reflection on their design performance. This dissertation explores the role of novice designers’ reflective thinking in solving design problems. Specifically, this study presents a review of literature and a conceptual model on the role of reflection in solving design problems. Following the conceptual model was the development of a new questionnaire, namely Reflective Thinking in Solving Design Problems (RTSDP). The RTSDP questionnaire is utilized to explore novice designers’ reflective thinking and investigate the relationship between novice designers’ reflective thinking and their design performance. This dissertation is presented in the alternative format and consists of three journal-ready manuscripts. The first manuscript describes a three-dimensional model that is used to guide the understanding of designers’ reflective thinking. The three dimensions are the timing of reflection, the objects of reflection, and the levels of reflection. In the second manuscript, a new questionnaire, was developed based on the three-dimensional model, is presented. A total of 260 participants were recruited for validating the RTSDP questionnaire. The reliability and validity analyses were performed to confirm the quality of the questionnaire. Furthermore, novice designers’ reflection patterns were captured by using the RTSDP questionnaire. The third manuscript reports the result of the study that was conducted to explore novice designers’ reflective thinking and their design performance. Forty-four students who were enrolled in the Introduction to Micro- and Nano-Biotechnology course participated in this study. At the conclusion of participants’ design project, participants self-assessed their reflection patterns with the RTSDP questionnaire. Also, their performance scores in their group project on a biomedical device design were collected. The results identified certain patterns of novices’ reflection that yielded better performance in solving design problems. The manuscript concludes with implications for instructional strategies that promote novices’ reflective thinking, and enhance their problem-solving abilities in design tasks.
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