d.Modular: Enhancing a Novice Designer's Prototyping Self-Efficacy with Modular Electronic Prototyping Tools

PI: Riitta Katila


Rough prototyping enables designers to rapidly iterate design concepts, gather feedback, and learn quickly from one’s mistakes. However, when a higher level of functionality is needed in a prototype involving sensors and electronic equipment, novices struggle with technical details, produce fewer prototypes, and have lower confidence in their abilities to “make” functional prototypes. The goal of this study is to understand how we might increase a novice designer’s “creative confidence” to make functional prototypes, by providing an interactive prototyping toolkit that lowers the barrier to incorporating sensors and interactive electronics. 

In particular, we aim to examine the effects of using an adaptable (plug-and-play) modular prototyping system that would allow novice designers to conduct prototyping tasks with limited electronics expertise. We hypothesize that using a modular interactive prototyping system that abstracts away technical details, will (i) allow designers to create more diverse prototypes; (ii) increase a designer’s actual and perceived prototyping self-efficacy; and (iii) mitigate differences in design outcomes associated with the engagement of novice versus expert designers during rapid prototyping and early stage product testing.