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authors Yakeley, Megan
year 2000
title Digitally Mediated Design: Using Computer Programming to Develop a Personal Design Process
source Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture
summary This thesis is based on the proposal that the current system of architectural design education confuses product and process. Students are assessed through, and therefore concentrate on, the former whilst the latter is left in many cases to chance. This thesis describes a new course taught by the author at MIT for the last three years whose aim is to teach the design process away from the complexities inherent in the studio system. This course draws a parallel between the design process and the Constructionist view of learning, and asserts that the design process is a constant learning activity. Therefore, learning about the design process necessarily involves learning the cognitive skills of this theoretical approach to education. These include concrete thinking and the creation of external artifacts to develop of ideas through iterative, experimental, incremental exploration. The course mimics the Constructionist model of using the computer programming environment LOGO to teach mathematics. It uses computer programming in a CAD environment, and specifically the development of a generative system, to teach the design process. The efficacy of such an approach to architectural design education has been studied using methodologies from educational research. The research design used an emergent qualitative model, employing Maykut and Morehouses interpretive descriptive approach (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994) and Glaser and Strausss Constant Comparative Method of data analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Six students joined the course in the Spring 1999 semester. The experience of these students, what and how they learned, and whether this understanding was transferred to other areas of their educational process, were studied. The findings demonstrated that computer programming in a particular pedagogical framework, can help transform the way in which students understand the process of designing. The following changes were observed in the students during the course of the year: Development of understanding of a personalized design process; move from using computer programming to solve quantifiable problems to using it to support qualitative design decisions; change in understanding of the paradigm for computers in the design process; awareness of the importance of intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills; change in expectations of, their sense of control over, and appropriation of, the computer in the design process; evidence of transference of cognitive skills; change from a Behaviourist to a Constructionist model of learning Thesis Supervisor: William J. Mitchell Title: Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences, School of Architecture and Planning
series thesis:PhD
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