Design Systems Thinking Post 3

Building A Culture of Design Research

The article I read for this week primarily focused on the lack of design research within the profession. This is first an issue because design has no research database, no common understanding of what is meant by research, and no unified theory guiding practice. For example, the article points out that that if this were the field of medicine, the obvious place to look for research is the practice. They use patient statistics to gain useful information about different treatments and diseases. But design is completely different and has no such information to relate to.

Another problem is that the majority of American design students (or at least the ones that were surveyed for this article) don’t think of this as a pressing issue. The majority of the students answered “no” when asked  whether they think there needs to be some sort of unified theory of design guiding research. This might come from the fact that there seems to be a large discrepancy between what students are being taught and what really matters in the worlds of design; but also because design is changing, and “is no longer at the cosmetic end of a decision-making food chain but a necessary partner with a variety of disciplinary experts.” The text also gives the example of an undergrad student who was working on designing something for a social movement on campus. After talking to that student the author realized that he had learned about the production aspect of his task but was still lacking the basic knowledge of how to implement his design for change. The author notes that this is all the unfortunate outcome of when students are only taught to focus on “formats and graphic
identity, not about how to achieve change in a social system through design.”

The text points to another flaw in the classroom, and that is in the graduate programs. It says that in some cases, graduates are actually still taught with the undergrads doing the same work, and are simply expected to preform better than their less experienced cohorts. It seems crazy to me that someone would spend so much time and money to go back to school where they should be gaining so much more knowledge, but in this case, are still just doing the same type of work as they did when they were undergrads.

Works Cited: Davis, Meredith. “SEGD.” Pat. NC State University, 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.


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