Pilot Study Understanding Students’ Perceptions of Failure in Product Design

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Lauff, Carlye Anne (1); Friesen, Alexis (1); Menold, Jessica (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of Minnesota; 2: Pennsylvania State University
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 2895-2904
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.290


Failure is part of the design process, and yet there is limited knowledge around how product design students perceive failure in their work. This pilot study aims to understand how a small sample size of undergraduate product design students conceptualize success and failure during specific stages of their design projects. This study uses a two-step data collection and analysis process. First, we collected responses from students on topics related to success and failure in a survey. Second, interviews were conducted with a subset of the survey respondents where these emergent topics were discussed and refined. In analyzing the responses, the research team used the Double Diamond Design process framework to organize what factors students deemed a success or failure within each stage. In summary, our preliminary findings indicate that determining success or failure is driven by the connection to the problem statement regardless of the stage; that student designers refer to failure as a spectrum but then in their examples showcase a binary view on the topic; and that examples of failure are often the opposite of success, reinforcing the notion of binary success vs. failure during student design projects.

Keywords: Design process, New product development, Failure, Design cognition, Design education

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