The Role of Personal and Pedagogical Factors in a Graduate Design Studio Environment
1. The Role of Personal and Pedagogical
Factors in a Graduate Design Studio
Colin M. Gray
March 2, 2012
2. relevant literature
• A core studio design pedagogy has been implemented in a variety of ﬁelds
(Shulman, 2005; Brandt, et al., 2008)
• Pedagogy moves the student toward mastery, linked to a change in their
design thinking (Siegel & Stolterman, 2008; Cross, 2011)
• The studio as ”a coherent system of activity” (Shaffer, 2007)
3. what is “design thinking”
• Constructive in nature
• Addresses ill-deﬁned (or “wicked”) problems
• Problem solving orientation
4. emergent themes
Environmental Factors Social Factors
• Private & Public Space (Blevis, et al., • Willingness to give critique (Logan,
2004; Reimer & Douglas, 2003) 2008; Wang, 2010)
• Contrast to traditional classroom • Willingness to receive critique
space (Demirba & Demirkan, 2003) (Danvers, 2003; Siegel & Stolterman, 2008)
• Unfamiliar tools and norms (Buxton,
2007; Cross, 2007; Mawson, 2003)
• Complexity of technological tools
(Kvan, 2001; Marx, 2000; Oxman, 2008)
5. emergent themes
Formative Factors Evaluative Factors
• Personal design knowledge (Cross, • Public critique and feedback (Blevis,
2011; Ledewitz, 1985) 2010; Walliss & Greig, 2009)
• Personal process (Boling & Smith, • Self-reﬂection (Dorst, 2006; Schön, 1983)
2010; Blevis & Siegel, 2005; Notess & Blevis,
• Peer and mentor support (Ochsner,
2000; Wang, 2010)
• Problem solving behaviors (Breslin &
Buchanan, 2008; Cross, 2007)
7. data collection
• Longitudinal collection
• Series of three one-hour
• Online reﬂection blog
• A one-hour semi-structured
Grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1999)
- Emergent themes through constant comparative analysis
- Themes from literature review
Critical theory analysis (Carspecken, 1996)
- Interview strategies to obtain knowledge for which the interviewee
has tacit awareness
- Analysis of issues relating to power and identity
9. preliminary analysis
• Emergent themes from literature were evident
• New themes have emerged:
- Interpersonal relationships in the studio environment
- Cultural and experiential difference in team composition
- Group work v. individual work
- Importance of peer critique
10. interpersonal relationships
“They keep encouraging me, instead of um blaming on me that what you’ve
done wrong and they encourage me that you should do—you can do more,
you can achieve more.”
“... if I talk to my peers and I found some...some uh good point that I can
learn, then it’s...it’s inspired me most, then those people I read in...read in the
book or elsewhere.”
11. cultural/experiential difference
“I don’t know why but when I worked in China, I didn’t feel there were many
conﬂicts or quarrels between team members. I think we cooperated like
happy discussion. But when I came here...maybe because everyone is so
involved in it and they want to make an excellent brilliant design, and they all
believe their ideas is quite often to get conﬂict...”
“I’m just changing. I feel like I’m another person now. Before I come here
[from China]. Um, it’s changed my personality...”
“I’m seeing that [diversity is] a good thing, especially for team stuff, being
able to kind of specialize and uh, just get very diverse perspectives on stuff is
really interesting, because I mean, I see things very differently than a lot of
people in my teams do.”
12. group v. individual
• “... it’s sort of dawning on me that like there is myself as an individual
designer and then like how I play in a group. [...] I hope I’ll get to focus on
myself a little bit, but um it’s starting to occur to me that like, I want to focus
on that and I need to focus on that.”
• “We came up with a few concepts as a group, maybe 10-15 total, like we
were told for project four as a deliverable. And uh, the one the won, or the
one that we all liked was the [...] one, the one I came up with.”
13. peer critique
• “Just sort of totally different sides when it comes to mentor critique. So, we
take it with a grain of salt. Almost all of it. At least I do. [...] So, when you think
about things in that way, and you start to understand like how people think,
then you can exploit their opinion to help you work best. I think that’s a big
• “I think it comes up a lot in terms of like critiquing other group members or
our own process, or just kind of saying pros and cons of what we’ve done are
and kind of—I feel like I’m usually good at giving critique...”
14. remaining analysis
• Third round of interview transcripts
• Veriﬁcation of interview coding using student blog reﬂections
• Analysis of faculty interviews through the lens of student interview
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Carspecken, P. F. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A
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studio masters program: Student activities and thinking across levels of
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18. interview protocol
• How would you deﬁne the term “design”? How has your perception of design changed
since our last interview?
• What external or internal factors affect the design process for you?
• Tell me about a design project you have worked on so far this semester. What frustrations
and/or successes can you recall?
• What role has teamwork played in your design education this semester, if any? How did
the team affect the design process?
• Have you had the opportunity to participate in critique, or have you had your design work
critiqued? Tell me about that process.
• What factors have inﬂuenced you the most in your design process or as a designer so far
19. interview protocol (faculty)
• How would you deﬁne the term “design” in a general sense? In your speciﬁc discipline?
• What elements of your Master’s program contribute the most to educating effective design
• What speciﬁc things do you do in educating design students in your discipline, compared to
the broader view of design education, if any?
• Is there an intended course sequence for ﬁrst-year students? And if so, what role it that
sequence intended to play in acculturating and/or developing ﬁrst-year Master’s students?
• From your perspective, what internal and external factors inﬂuence your students as they
develop as a design practitioner in the context of your Master’s program?
• Tell me about a project that you have used for ﬁrst-year Master’s students in the past, and the
planned role it plays in developing student design thinking. [Prompt from known student-
referenced projects, if possible.]