DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity, Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016

Year: 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Zahedi, Mithra; Heaton, Lorna
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Montreal
Section: Tools
Page(s): 166-171
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


This paper discusses the use of mind maps by interdisciplinary teams of students during a collaborative
design activity. In the context of a Graduate Diploma program aiming to train specialists in eco-design
strategy, we seek to offer pedagogical content, delivery methods, and tools that integrate theory and
praxis and help students to co-construct new knowledge. A project-based studio was designed as an
introduction to the design process and collaborative design. Eleven students from different disciplinary
backgrounds teamed up to work on the project in situations where they continually needed to reflect on
their dynamic of collaboration, on the design process, and on their actions. At the end of the studio,
students received a questionnaire with 14 open-ended questions about the approach and various tools
used during the course. Analysis of the answers shows that students consider collaboratively developed
mind maps as an essential cross-disciplinary boundary object useful for broadening the team’s horizons,
stimulating creativity, structuring thinking process and tackling the complexity of the project. In
addition, mind mapping offered a platform for collaborative design: by going through the iterative
process of mind mapping students developed a shared view, a common language, a refined
understanding of the project, and design criteria which were meaningful and fitted their social,
environmental and disciplinary values. Our findings provide evidence that mind mapping can be used to
enhance both individual learning, and cross-disciplinary team interactions.

Keywords: Mind mapping, design tool, design process, problem/solution space.


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