DS 93: Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2018), Dyson School of Engineering, Imperial College, London. 6th - 7th September 2018

Year: 2018
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: McKilligan, Seda; Creeger, Samantha
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Iowa State University, United States of America
Section: Creativity and Innovation in Design and Engineering Education
Page(s): 318-325
ISBN: 978-1-912254-02-6


Designers are used to solving problems that are given to them, leading them to focus on creating feasible solutions rather than exploring novel perspectives on the presented problems. Creative innovations in problem understanding may lead directly to more innovation solutions. Although problem exploration has been identified as a key process in design thinking, how designers restructure and reframe the problem is not fully examined. The present work aimed to understand how designers intentionally explore variants of problems on the way to solutions. Through an empirical study industrial design students, we documented a high degree of variation in the problem perspectives among the design students working on the same problem. Analysis of qualitative changes in problem perspectives revealed systematic patterns. The results showed a causal relationship between the number of strategies used in reframing the problem and the quality of the solution generated. Evidence for the utility of problem exploration strategies in the problem defining stage is examined and suggestions for their use in design pedagogy are provided.

Keywords: Design education, problem exploration, design strategies, design tool


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