There has been an ongoing conversation about the role and relationship of theory and practice in the HCI community. This paper explores this relationship privileging a practice
perspective through a tentative model, which describes a “bubble-up” of ideas from practice to inform research and theory development, and an accompanying “trickle-down”
of theory into practice. Interviews were conducted with interaction designers, which included a description of their use of design methods in practice, and their knowledge and
use of two common design methods—affinity diagramming and the concept of affordance. Based on these interviews, potential relationships between theory and practice are explored through this model. Disseminating agents already common in HCI practice are addressed as possible mechanisms for the research community to understand practice more completely. Opportunities for future research, based on the use of the tentative model in a generative way, are considered.
Gray, C. M., Stolterman, E., & Siegel, M. A. (2014). Reprioritizing the Relationship Between HCI Research and Practice: Bubble-Up and Trickle-Down Effects. In Proc.of Designing Interactive Systems. New York, NY: ACM Press.
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.
Gray, C. M. & Siegel, M. A. (2014). Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of Design in Education and Practice. Design and Technology Education, 19(1), 48-61.
This paper asks, Can there be scientific theories of design that do not scientizedesign? And it answers in the affirmative. Not only can there be scientifictheories of design that do not scientize design but also that a scientific lens can potentially reveal important aspects of the design process. We apply KarlPopper’s criteria for the scientific status of a theory to four seminal theories ofthe design process: Bounded Rationality, FBS Framework, Figural Complexity, and C-K Theory. We demonstrate that (1) some theories about design can beconstrued as scientific in Popper’s terms, and that (2) these theories do not“scientize” the design process
Beck, J., & Stolterman, E. (2015). Can there be scientific theories of design that do not scientize design? In the Proceedings from the European Academy of Design, Paris Descartes University, Paris, 22-24 April.
The focus of this paper is interaction design research aimed at supporting interaction design practice. The main argument is that this kind of interaction design research has not (always) been successful, and that the reason for this is that it has not been guided by a sufficient understanding of the nature of design practice. Based on a comparison between the notion of complexity in science and in design, it is argued that science is not the best place to look for approaches and methods on how to approach design complexity. Instead, the case is made that any attempt by interaction design research to produce outcomes aimed at supporting design practice must be grounded in a fundamental understanding of the nature of design practice. Such an understanding can be developed into a well-grounded and rich set of rigorous and disciplined design methods and techniques, appropriate to the needs and desires of practicing designers.
Stolterman, E. (2008). The nature of design practice and implications for interaction design research. In International Journal of Design, 2(1). [Paper]
Pattern Language (PL) has been researched and developed in HCI research since the mid-80s. Our research was initiated by the question why something like PL can create such enthusiasm and interest over the years, while at the same time not be more widespread and successful? In this paper, we examine the experiences and expectations that HCI researchers who have been involved in PL research have had and still have when it comes to PL. Based on the literature review and interview studies, we provide some overall reflections and several possible directions on the use of PL in HCI.
Pan, Y. & Stolterman, E. “Pattern Language and HCI: Expectations and Experiences”. CHI 2013 alt.chi (Juried). Proc. of CHI’2013. ACM: New York. [Paper]
Yue Pan, School of Informatics, Indiana University
Erik Stolterman, School of Informatics, Indiana University
This paper presents findings from semi-structured interviews with professional interaction designers. The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between interaction designers and their design tools— specifically the reasons behind their choice of tools. The findings show that the relationship between designers and their tools is more complex than commonly assumed. The paper argues that a deeper understanding of the complexity of the designer-tool relationship can make a difference for both education and practice.
Stolterman, E. & Pierce, J. (2012). “Design tools in practice: Studying the designer-tool relationship in interaction design”. In DIS 2012, June 11-15, 2012, Newcastle, UK
Erik Stolterman, School of Informatics, Indiana University
James Pierce, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
Enthusiasm is growing in non-traditional environments for teaching design by adapting knowledge and approaches from studio pedagogy, described as a “signature pedagogy” by Shulman in 2005. Meanwhile, those in fields where some variation of studio pedagogy have been used for decades are engaged in addressing some of its experienced shortcomings. Within this landscape of change, the authors have been engaged in study of their own studio-based courses, (interior design, instructional design, and interaction/experience design), reflecting on how this form of pedagogy is contributing to students’ development as designers. In this study we consider the role of the instructor in the studio using a lens informed by narrative aesthetics and transformative education. The narrative that an instructor encourages students to experience with regard to themselves, to the instructor, or to both, has a profound impact in the studio environment. This paper will explore that impact within the context of the authors’ own courses via review of course notes and collaborative reflection with colleagues.
Boling, E., Siegel, M., Smtih, K., Parrish, P. (2013) Student Goes on a Journey; Stranger Rides Into to the Classroom: Narratives and the Instructor in the Design Studio. DRS // CUMULUS 2013. 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. Submitted for Publication.
Elizabeth Boling, Indiana University
Marty Siegel, Indiana University
Kennon Smith, Indiana University
Patrick Parrish, World Meteorological Organization Geneva
Education in Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCI/d) aims to instill a human-centered perspective among its students, encouraging a designerly way of thinking that allows them to develop creative solutions that consider the implications and consequences of people interacting with technology. It has been known that a practicum (Schön, 1987) environment contributes to developing this way of thinking by means of reflection (Schön, 1987). We present in this paper a pedagogical approach based on narratives to be employed in studio-based courses for HCI/d. We discuss how oral and multimedia narratives support in conveying content-independent concepts that affect the learning experience. We propose a set of components to help the elaboration of these stories. Additionally, we introduce a conceptual space called the narrative cloud, which helps us to elaborate on the ideas regarding this approach and closely ties to the concept of distributed cognition (Hutchins, 2000). Therefore, the goal of this paper is establish a base for discussing a further development of this approach, or any framework or methods where narratives constitute a fundamental element that supports reflection in HCI/d education.
Sosa Tzec, O., Beck, J. E., Siegel, M. A. (2013) Building the Narrative Cloud: Reflection and Distributed Cognition in a Design Studio Classroom. DRS // CUMULUS 2013. 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. Submitted for Publication. [PDF]
Siegel, M. & Stolterman, E. (2008). “Metamorphosis: Transforming Non-designers into Designers”, DRS Conference, July, Sheffield, 2008. [PDF]
Nelson, H. & Stolterman, E. (2012). The Design Way. Cambridge: MIT Press. [More info]
An assumption behind this paper is that research aimed at improving interaction design practice is not as successful as it could be. We will argue that one reason for this is that the understanding of what constitutes designerly tools is not enough recognized among those who propose new tools for interction design. We define designerly tools as methods, tools, techniques, and approaches that supports design activity in way that is appreciated by practicing interaction designers. Based on a two empirical studies, we have developed a framework and a way of studying designers and their tools. We discuss some insights about what characterizes designerly tools and what kind of implications these insights might have for the further development of tools aimed at supporting design practice.
Stolterman, E., McAtee, J., Royer, D. & Thandapani, S. (2008) “Designerly Tools”, DRS Conference, July, Sheffield, 2008. [Paper]
Erik Stolterman, School of Informatics, Indiana University
Jamie McAtee, School of Informatics, Indiana University
David Royer, School of Informatics, Indiana University
SelvanThandapani, School of Informatics, Indiana University
There has been an ongoing conversation about the role and relationship of theory and practice in the HCI community. This paper explores this relationship through a tentative model, which describes a “trickle-down” of theory into practice, and a “bubble-up” of ideas from practice to inform research and theory development. Interviews were conducted with interaction designers, which included their knowledge of two design methods—affinity diagramming and the concept of affordance—as well as a description of their use of design methods in practice. Based on these interviews, potential relationships between theory and practice were explored through this model. Knowledge of the history or key steps of executing a design method was not found to negatively affect the ability of a designer to apply the key concepts of a method in practice. Opportunities for future research, based on the use of the tentative model as a generative model, are considered.