Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of design in education and practice

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Colin M. Gray Martin A. Siegel


Research on design pedagogy has shown that students
progress through a variety of barriers on the path to
becoming a successful design practitioner, and that
frameworks for explicit reflection can be beneficial to the
development of design students. Schön uses the concept
of reflection-on- action to describe one form of reflection
on design practice, with the eventual goal of improving
design processes and judgment. In this study, sketching is
used as a form of reflection-on-action in a first semester
intensive course in interaction design (IxD). This sketch
reflects the student’s current understanding of the “whole
game” or holistic view of design in IxD. Current
practitioners in IxD companies were asked to draw the
“whole game” sketch as well. Parallels among the sketches
and areas of divergence are discussed. In summary,
students shifted from abstract, linear representations of
process early in the semester to more concrete, iterative
representations by the end of their first semester.
Practitioner sketches were more abstract and linear, but
also included representations of business terminology and
design teams. We propose a preliminary model of change
in expertise, which documents the shift in a designer’s
visual representation of their process as their expertise
increases over time. Implications for changes in design
pedagogy and avenues for future research are discussed.

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How to Cite
GRAY, Colin M.; SIEGEL, Martin A.. Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of design in education and practice. Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, [S.l.], v. 19, n. 1, jan. 2014. ISSN 1360-1431. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 03 feb. 2023.
reflection, sketching, human-computer interaction (HCI), design practice