What Constitutes Good Design? A Review of Empirical Studies of Design Processes

Matthew M. Mehalik and Christian Schunn
Learning Research and Development Center
University of Pittsburgh, 3939 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA
Email: mmehalik@pitt.edu, schunn@pitt.edu

The authors conducted a meta-analysis in which they sampled over 40 journal articles of empirical studies of the design process. The articles were selected from several journals that are indexed in PsychInfo. They were reviewed and indexed according to whether or not those articles mentioned and/or focused one or several of 15 common design process elements. These elements consist of a bootstrapped framework that the authors constructed from past experience in studying the design process and from validation from literature. The coding was conducted by an additional expert in design, and the results were shown to have reliability greater than 80%. The results show which elements of the design process have been studied most frequently, and of those studied, which were documented to contribute to an effective design outcome. Both the framework and the coding outcomes contribute to a stronger understanding of the overall design process that relies upon existing, more fine-grained empirical studies of design.


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