Design and Problem-Finding in High Schools: a Study of Students and Their Teacher in One Queensland school
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The study challenges current literature, which views the notion of problem-finding as the initial identification of a problem to be solved. The concept of problem-finding in this study is that problem-finding continues throughout the problem-solving process and is not distinct from it. This thesis aims to develop a better understanding of problem-finding by examining high school students using problem-finding to solve industrial design problems. The study seeks to find out what types of problem-finding exist and what roles they play in solving design problems. To explore problem-finding, this study uses a Think Aloud methodology to examine the thinking of three high school industrial design students and one high school industrial design teacher solving an authentic industrial design problem. Protocol data was gathered from the subjects and then transcribed, segmented and analysed in three ways, each of which became progressively more specific: Firstly, a macroscopic examination which identified problem-finding episodes occurring throughout the design process; secondly, a microscopic examination which identified four categories of problem-finding; and lastly, a microscopic examination which looked at the role played by the different problem-finding categories in solving design problems. The findings of this study are fourfold. Firstly, problem-finding was found to be used throughout the entire design process. Secondly, there were four categories of problemfinding. Thirdly, each category played an important role predominantly through interaction with other categories. Lastly, the more experienced a person was, the more able they were to use problem-finding effectively to solve design problems. Many current practices use trial and error methods to solve design problems. The importance of this study is that through a better understanding of problem-finding, designers may be able to use metacognitive strategies more efficiently in the process. Similarly, in educational practice, high school design students may be able to learn to think about the methods they use to solve design problems, and this may result in more creative designs.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
School of Vocational, Technology and Arts Education
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high school students
design problem solutions