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Locating the Emerging Design Identity of Students Through Visual and Textual Reflection

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Reflective activities have the potential to encourage students to develop critical skills and awareness of mental models. In this study, I address the emerging identity of early design students as they externalize their evolving conceptions of design through visual and textual reflection. Forty-three students in an introductory human-computer interaction (HCI) course completed weekly textual reflections on a course blog, and completed visual reflections at the conclusion of each of three projects. The weekly blog reflections were intended to document their experience as a developing designer, while the visual reflections represented their personal conception of design within HCI—their rendering of the “whole game”. Through this process of reflection, students externalized their transformation as designers, including an awareness of the pedagogical, social, and cultural factors shaping them, and a growing sense of their personal and professional design identity. Through interviews and additional analysis of eight of these students, a disjuncture was found between conceptions of design in visual and textual reflections, with visual reflections forming a professional, generic design identity, and textual reflections more congruent with the student’s personal identity. Issues relating to lack of representational skill and how these forms of reflection externalize a student’s evolving design philosophy are addressed.

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Locating the Emerging Design Identity of Students Through Visual and Textual Reflection

  1. 1. look upon this jurisdiction with renewed jollity. This jargon that threatens to journey, no mere jolly junket, is justified by our juxtaposition of ambition and can call me J. Well now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m Jared! My journey here think about it, the more I realized I was destined to become a designer I was actually born in Bloomington, but haven’t actually lived here for m here, near the Indiana/Ohio border. After high school, in a rather bizarr undergrad after falling in love with the campus and the friendly people freshman, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with course guide in hand and And that’s when the trouble started. Fast forward to two semesters later and I’m in the midst of an existentia Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Political Science, and Psychology. I realized I had to put aside my tendencies to dabble in just about any p driven primarily by the solid instruction in that department, and my fas decisions. I even picked up a minor in Global Culture along the way, an Wisconsin Experience. But when the diploma met my hand on graduation day (well, metaphor victory. I was no doubt proud of my accomplishment, but a part of me f arrived. And so I did what every graduate from my class of 2009 did; fil Funny thing about job applications, particularly those for the federal g not unusual to not hear back for 4-6 months, a fact I only found out lat political connections, so several interviews later, I found myself at an u it wasn’t even this job, or the one I took at a polling and research firm years later, in my last 6 months with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that it al My day-to-day duties at the USAO mainly involved supporting a team o drafting, filing, I did a little bit of everything. But it wasn’t until I got so VISUAL + TEXTUAL REFLECTION Colin M. Gray
 Iowa State University 16 JUNE 2014 locating the emerging 
 design identity of students through
  2. 2. grounding this work ❖ Sketching as an expression of design reasoning 
 (Buxton, 2007; Do & Gross, 1996; Verstijnen, et al., 1998) ❖ A general focus on mechanics of sketching, but not on how sketching can relate to identity development and externalizations of one's unique design philosophy (Nelson & Stolterman, 2012) ❖ Reflection as a tool to externalize how a student is thinking about design (Gray & Siegel, 2013; Siegel & Stolterman, 2008)
  3. 3. Sketching Design Thinking (Gray & Siegel, 2013)
  4. 4. CONTEXT
  5. 5. (Gray, 2014)
  6. 6. DATA
  7. 7. DATA
  8. 8. Introductory course in interaction design
  9. 9. 1 graduate design course 43 students 109 sketches 513 posts
  10. 10. Viewing education in a holistic, action-driven way (Perkins, 2010)
  11. 11. participants Name Country of Origin Educational 
 Background Sketches 
 (by project) Posts Comments Thomas United States Philosophy 3 9 17 Jack United States Journalism 1,2 11 56 Naveen India Engineering 1,2,3 6 12 Isabella Mexico Computer Science 1,2,3 17 29 Parker United States Computer Science 1,2,3 10 7 Mei-Xing China Telecommunications 1,3 16 46 Adrian United States Education 2,3 15 28 Zachary United States Political Science 1,3 17 27
  12. 12. participants Name Country of Origin Educational 
 Background Sketches 
 (by project) Posts Comments Thomas United States Philosophy 3 9 17 Jack United States Journalism 1,2 11 56 Naveen India Engineering 1,2,3 6 12 Isabella Mexico Computer Science 1,2,3 17 29 Parker United States Computer Science 1,2,3 10 7 Mei-Xing China Telecommunications 1,3 16 46 Adrian United States Education 2,3 15 28 Zachary United States Political Science 1,3 17 27
  13. 13. PARKER   computer science case #1 “the design process seemed 
 like a flowchart”
  14. 14. “I wholly expect everyone to fail miserably out of the gate and I welcome it”
  15. 15. “I had a little breakdown in how I was prioritizing my life [...] so I was a little distant”
  16. 16. NAVEEN   engineering case #2 ! “[the professor] wants us to feel exhausted and suffocated by the way ‘we think’ design work is done”
  17. 17. “[you] shouldn’t be attached to your design ideas”
  18. 18. “[the professor] wants us to feel exhausted and suffocated by the way ‘we think’ design work is done”
  19. 19. ISABELLA   computer science case #3 “I didn’t thinking how I felt mattered.”
  20. 20. “what will design mess up?”
  21. 21. “Oh, there will be blood on room 150 by the end”
  22. 22. DISCUSSION
  23. 23. Disjuncture between visual and textual reflections1
  24. 24. “in design, 
 people on both sides leave their mark”
 ZACHARY
  25. 25. Visual representation in early design education2
  26. 26. Revealing conceptions of designerly identity3
  27. 27. 3 “felt forced— having to reflect”
 THOMAS
  28. 28. implications ❖ Affordances of multiple types of reflection should be considered when constructing design education experiences ❖ Consideration must be made for incoming skill level, both in writing and visual/spatial reasoning ❖ Value as a diagnostic tool for professors to see externalized conceptions of design (but they can be wrong!) ❖ Beyond mechanical sketching or writing ability to what those abilities tell us about the developing designer
  29. 29. thank you martin a. siegel, erik stolterman, 
 omar sosa-tzec, jordan beck nsf grant #1115532

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