A Comparison of Design Activity of Academics and Practitioners Using the FBS Ontology: A Case Study

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Hurst, Ada (1); Nespoli, Oscar G. (1); Abdellahi, Sarah (2); Gero, John S. (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Waterloo
Section: Design methods and tools
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/dsi.2019.138
ISSN: 2220-4342


Academics teach engineering design based on design theory and best practices, practitioners teach design based on their experience. Is there a difference between them? There appears to be little prior work in comparing the design processes of design academics and practitioners. This paper presents a case study in which the design activity of a team of academics was compared to that of a team of practitioners. The participants? verbalizations during team discussions were coded using the Function-Behaviour-Structure (FBS) ontology. A qualitative comparison reveals that the team of practitioners constructs the design space earlier and generally spends more time in the solution space than the team of academics. Further, the team of practitioners has a significant number of direct transitions from function (F) to structure (S), while no such transitions are observed for the team of academics. Given that this is a single case study, the results cannot be used as the basis for any generalizations on how academics and practitioners compare. This is a successful proof of methodologies that lay the foundation for a series of hypotheses to be tested in a future study.

Keywords: Design cognition, Design practice, Design process, Design theory, Ontologies


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