A Framework for Reflective Practice in Innovative Design

Rebecca M. Currano
Center for Design Research Bldg 560 at 424 Panama Mall Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305 Email: bcurrano@stanford.edu

Martin Steinert
Center for Design Research Bldg 560 at 424 Panama Mall Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305 Email: steinert@stanford.edu

Abstract
The “fuzzy front-end of innovation” offers the context for laying out the foundation for innovative design through new concept creation, yet this front-end is poorly understood and therefore offers significant opportunity for improving the innovation process [2] [3]. [4] [5] show Design Thinking to be a successful approach in encouraging new concept generation early in the design process. In combination with project-based learning, some general Design Thinking practices have also found their way into the classrooms or lofts [6].
However, the practical means to promote increased creative ideation remain elusive and poorly understood both in practice and in education, and research has offered little in the way of impacting this. The move toward project-based learning and problem- based learning in engineering education presents an appropriate and timely opportunity to understand, transfer and incorporate reflective practice from design practice into engineering education.
In this paper we discuss preliminary research on reflective practices used by designers in idea generation. We present a variety of reflective practices used by design students in coming up with new insights and ideas. We offer a clarified definition of reflective practice, derived from Donald Schön’s concept of reflection-in-action and prior studies of our own. Lastly, we assess and validate a framework for characterizing reflective practices.

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