A systematic review of protocol studies on conceptual design cognition: design as search and exploration

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Abstract

This paper reports findings from the first systematic review of protocol studies focusing specifically on conceptual design cognition, aiming to answer the following research question: What is our current understanding of the cognitive processes involved in conceptual design tasks carried out by individual designers? We reviewed 47 studies on architectural design, engineering design, and product design engineering. This paper reports 24 cognitive processes investigated in a subset of 33 studies aligning with two viewpoints on the nature of designing: (V1) design as search (10 processes, 41.7%); and (V2) design as exploration (14 processes, 58.3%). Studies on search focused on solution search and problem structuring, considered to involve: long term memory retrieval; working memory; and a range of operators. Reasoning processes are also examined. Studies on exploration investigated: (i) co-evolutionary design; (ii) visual reasoning processes; (iii) cognitive actions; and (iv) unexpected discovery and situated requirements invention. Overall, considerable conceptual and terminological differences were observed among the studies. Nonetheless, a common focus on memory, semantic, associative, visual perceptual, and mental imagery processes was observed to an extent. We suggest three challenges for future research to advance the field: (i) developing general models and theories; (ii) testing protocol study findings using objective methods conducive to larger samples; and (iii) developing a shared ontology of cognitive processes in conceptual design.
LanguageEnglish
Article numbere10
Number of pages36
JournalDesign Science
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017

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Conceptual design
Cognition
Mental Processes
Network protocols
Long-Term Memory
Imagery (Psychotherapy)
Short-Term Memory
Semantics
Data storage equipment
Architectural design
Patents and inventions
Product design
Research
Ontology
Testing

Keywords

  • conceptual design
  • design cognition
  • cognitive processes
  • protocol analysis
  • psychology

Cite this

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title = "A systematic review of protocol studies on conceptual design cognition: design as search and exploration",
abstract = "This paper reports findings from the first systematic review of protocol studies focusing specifically on conceptual design cognition, aiming to answer the following research question: What is our current understanding of the cognitive processes involved in conceptual design tasks carried out by individual designers? We reviewed 47 studies on architectural design, engineering design, and product design engineering. This paper reports 24 cognitive processes investigated in a subset of 33 studies aligning with two viewpoints on the nature of designing: (V1) design as search (10 processes, 41.7{\%}); and (V2) design as exploration (14 processes, 58.3{\%}). Studies on search focused on solution search and problem structuring, considered to involve: long term memory retrieval; working memory; and a range of operators. Reasoning processes are also examined. Studies on exploration investigated: (i) co-evolutionary design; (ii) visual reasoning processes; (iii) cognitive actions; and (iv) unexpected discovery and situated requirements invention. Overall, considerable conceptual and terminological differences were observed among the studies. Nonetheless, a common focus on memory, semantic, associative, visual perceptual, and mental imagery processes was observed to an extent. We suggest three challenges for future research to advance the field: (i) developing general models and theories; (ii) testing protocol study findings using objective methods conducive to larger samples; and (iii) developing a shared ontology of cognitive processes in conceptual design.",
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author = "Laura Hay and Duffy, {Alex H. B.} and Chris McTeague and Pidgeon, {Laura M.} and Tijana Vuletic and Madeleine Grealy",
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