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Which clippings match 'Direct Observation' keyword pg.1 of 1
18 AUGUST 2013

Thinking aloud: a method for systematically collecting and analysing data about the design process

"Suppose that you want to understand the design process of architects, the knowledge that they use, the cognitive actions that they take and the strategies they employ. How would you go about this? One obvious possibility is to ask some architects how they design a building. Interestingly enough, they will not find this an easy question to answer. They are used to do their job, not to explain it. If they do try to tell you how they go about their design work, it is quite possible that their account of it will be incomplete or even incorrect, because they construct this account from memory. They may be inclined to describe the design process neatly in terms of the formal design methods that they acquired during their professional training, whereas the real design process deviates from these methods. Psychologists have demonstrated that such accounts are not very reliable. Another possibility is to look at the architects' designs and at their intermediate sketches. However, now you are looking at the products of the thought processes of these architects, and not at the thought processes themselves. What is needed are more direct data on the ongoing thinking processes during working on a design. If you want to know how they arrive at their designs, what they think, what is difficult for them and what is easy, how they reconcile conflicting demands, a different research method is needed.

A good method in this situation is to ask architects to work on a design and to instruct them to think aloud. What they say is recorded and used as data for analysis of the design process. This is a very direct method to gain insight in the knowledge and methods of human problem–solving. The speech and writings are called spoken and written protocols. In this book we will describe a method for systematically collecting and analysing such think aloud protocols. This method can be used by psychologists and other social scientists who want to know more about cognitive processes. It is also an important method for knowledge engineers whose goal is to build a knowledgebased computer system on the basis of human expertise."

(Maarten W. van Someren, Yvonne F. Barnard, et al., 1994, pp.1–2)

Maarten W. van Someren, Yvonne F. Barnard and Jacobijn A.C. Sandberg. (1994). "The Think Aloud Method: A Practical Guide to Modelling Cognitive Processes".


academic researchanalysing dataarchitectural thoughtcognitive actionscognitive processescognitive psychologycognitive sciencecognitive theoriesconceptual modeldata collection and analysisdata collection techniquesdesign knowledgedesign process • design strategies • design workdirect observationexperimental knowledgeformal design methods • human expertise • knowledge engineer • knowledge-based systems • problem-solvingpsychological analysispsychological modelsresearch methodsketching ideas • social scientists • spoken protocols • task analysis • testing theories • theoretical model • think aloud (research method) • think aloud protocols • thinking processthought process • unreliable evidence • user testinguser-based evaluation • written protocols


Simon Perkins
24 APRIL 2009

Design Thinking: a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centred design ethos

"Design thinking is ... a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. Like [Thomas] Edison's painstaking innovation process, it often entails a great deal of perspiration. ...

Historically, design has been treated as a downstream step in the development process – the point where designers, who have played no earlier role in the substantive work of innovation, come along and put a beautiful wrapper around the idea. To be sure, this approach has stimulated market growth in many areas by making new products and technologies aesthetically attractive and therefore more desirable to consumers or by enhancing brand perception through smart, evocative advertising and communication strategies. During the latter half of the twentieth century design became an increasingly valuable competitive asset in, for example, the consumer electronics, automotive, and consumer packaged goods industries. But in most others it remained a late–stage add–on.

Now, however, rather than asking designers to make an already developed idea more attractive to consumers, companies are asking them to create ideas that better meet consumers' needs and desires. The former role is tactical, and results in limited value creation; the latter is strategic, and leads to dramatic new forms of value."

(Tim Brown, 2008, Harvard Business Review)



2008 • aesthetically attractive • applied researchbest practicebrand perceptionbusiness machine • business savvy • business sense • business world • communication strategiescompetitive advantageconsumer desireconsumer electronics • consumer packaged goods • consumerscreativity • customer value • design ideasdesign methodologydesign methodsdesign thinkingdesigners • designers sensibility • development process • dictation • direct observationdiscovery through design • discrete device • electric light bulb • electric power generation • electric power transmission • envisionevocative advertisingexperimental investigationgeneralistgenius • gifted tinkerers • Harvard Business Reviewhuman-centred designhumanisation of technologyIDEOimprovisationinnovation • innovation activities • innovation processintegrationinventioninventoriterative designlightbulblone genius • market growth • market opportunity • marketplace • Menlo Park • needs and desires • new forms of value • new productsnew technologies • parlour trick • phonograph • prescient • product differentiation • products are made • products are marketed • products are packaged • products are sold • products are supported • recording dictation • replaying dictation • research and development • research and development laboratory • strategic thinking • substantive work of innovation • team-based approach • technologically feasible • Thomas Edison • trial and error • twentieth century • viable business strategy • what people want


Simon Perkins

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