The impact of cognitive style diversity on problem reframing and product redesign within design teams

PI: Prof. Mark Cutkosky


In the words of Professor Larry J. Leifer, "All design is redesign." As designers collect information about a problem, they form a mental frame of the problem space that is the scaffolding around which to build a solution. When presented with new information, successful designers can "reframe" the problem and the solution as part of a successful iterative cycle. These iterative cycles are central to the Stanford Design Thinking process. A team's capacity and willingness to reframe can be measured by means of a closed-form assessment tool called the Stanford Design Thinking Exercise (SDTE).

 We propose a parallel examination of student design teams using both the in-lab SDTE exercise and longitudinal measures of team performance. Test and control teams will be formed along cognitive findings from the "Applied Teamology" project to examine the relationship between team cognition, team dynamics, reframing, and design outcome. Successful cross-validation of these techniques would provide a powerful and widely applicable assessment tool for the design research community, as well as a meaningful understanding of how cognition can be used to understand and model team performance.