Metamorphosis: Transforming Non-designers into Designers

SIEGEL, Martin A and STOLTERMAN, Erik (2009). Metamorphosis: Transforming Non-designers into Designers. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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In this paper we make the case that there is today a growing number of educational settings experiencing challenges when it comes to transforming non-designers into designers, and in particular, interaction designers. We see this development as a consequence of an increased awareness and recognition of what broadly could be labeled as a design perspective. We examine the transformational process, the metamorphosis, by which non-designer students become interaction designers. We identify and describe the barriers that make it difficult for the students to move through this transformational process. We also propose some pedagogical approaches that can reduce the barriers and improve the possibility for the transformation to occur. The approach that we have developed and describe consists of three parts. Based on a fundamental understanding of the nature of design, we have developed (i) a tentative transformational model of how non-designers become interaction designers; (ii) a special kind of conceptual framework used to support students in the transformational process; and (iii) design assignments based on real-world design problems. We end the paper with two conclusions. First we argue that there is a challenge in transforming non-designers into designers, but that it is possible if the educational effort is based on an understanding of design and on the transformational process with its barriers. Finally we argue that the experience of trying to turn non-designers into interaction designers is in itself a valuable research approach. Dealing with non-designer students reveals deep insights about the nature of the design process and makes it possible to better formulate what constitutes a designerly approach.

Design, Design education, Pedagogy, HCI

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:18

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