An Empirical Study of Understanding in Order to Act and Acting in Order to Understand in Digital Design Practice -168

Chitraj Bissoonauth, Christiane Margerita Herr, and Thomas Fischer

1Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University | 2Southern University of Science and Technology

We present an ongoing empirical study into a distinction between two kinds of purposeful action: understanding in order to act and acting in order to understand. This distinction is referred to in several design theories and has received limited empirical attention. One such effort investigates Tetri’s play and labels the two kinds as pragmatic and epistemic actions. With Tetris being characterized by simple rules and a well-defined goal, the question arises whether it offers a suitable context to account for human action in the context of design, given its ill-defined goals and often-conflicting requirements. To address this question, we are conducting a lab study of individual designers concurrently thinking-aloud during digital design processes. We analyze data acquired in this setting using the lithography method. Our preliminary analysis shows that pragmatic design objectives frequently lead to epistemic fulfilments (or dead-ends) and vice versa. In total, we identify six design episode categories. Numerous design episodes we observed fall into different categories when analyzed across different observational time frames. 

KEYWORDS: digital design, linear and circular processes, pragmatic and epistemic actions, protocol analysis, linkography

RSD TOPIC(S): Cases & Practice, Modelling & Mapping, Architecture & Planning

Posted September 2022

©­ Author, published by the Systemic Design Association

Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD#) Symposium.