Student Reflections on Needs Finding in Community-based Design Work

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

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Loweth, Robert P.; Daly, Shanna R.; Sienko, Kathleen H.; Liu, Jiangqiong
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Michigan
Section: Design Education
DOI number:
ISSN: 2220-4342


Reflection is an important component in design skill development that helps designers better understand their design problem, develop better solutions, and improve their design approaches. This study explored the information that a student design team reflected on as part of a needs finding experience and the outcomes from these reflections. During the needs finding experience, the team exhibited reflection-in-action behavior as they used available data to form and iterate on explanatory hypotheses about potential community needs. After the needs finding experience, the team exhibited reflection-on-action behavior as they drew connections between their interview approaches and stakeholder responses and discussed changes they might make in the future. The team also identified situations where contextual factors of the stakeholder impacted their interviews, but during these reflections did not indicate how they might adapt their approaches to account for such factors in the future. These findings show that student designers can use reflection as a tool to improve their needs finding process but would benefit from pedagogical structures that might help them reflect more effectively.

Keywords: Reflective practice, Needs finding, Collaborative design, Decision making, Design education


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