Forming a Mindset: Design Students' Preconceptions about the Usefulness of Systematic Methods

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Person, Oscar; Daalhuizen, Jaap; Gattol, Valentin
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Aalto University, Finland / Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands; 2: Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 028-032
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


Teaching students to use systematic design methods effectively is not straightforward. While method teaching often focuses on the procedural aspects of method usage (e.g., what steps to take and in what order), effectively using a systematic method entails more than following its ‘instructions’. As noted by Andreasen [1], students need to be equipped with a proper method mindset in order to use methods effectively. A mindset represents a mental framework that supports designers in using methods. To this end, Andreasen recognizes that a mindset encompasses at least knowledge about a method and its use. Yet, learning to use a new method requires more than just prior knowledge about it. In order to use it effectively, students also need to develop a preference for working with a method (or certain type of methods). In this paper, we investigate how knowledge and preference affect method usage. Drawing on a survey among 305 industrial design engineering students, we study how prior knowledge and preference for systematic methods affect their use in five different basic design activities. For four of the activities, we show that preference mediated the effect of knowledge on method usage. For one activity (analysis), we unveil a complementary mediation effect for the knowledge–usage relationship. Our results support Andreasen’s proposition of a method mindset. They also extend Andreasen’s initial ideas about the underlying elements of a method mindset by underscoring the role preference holds in facilitating method usage.

Keywords: Design methods, mindset, design education


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