Room for chaos? : authenticity and performance in undergraduate spatial design students’ accounts of ideational work
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AbstractThis study was prompted by my suspicion that spatial design undergraduates’ production of paper-based freehand sketches during design ideation was in decline. Seeking to find out why, I conducted video-recorded focused interviews with undergraduates from a range of UK spatial design degrees, during which we examined their sketchbook material and discussed their ideational activities (termed ‘ideational moves’). I subjected the data to a form of content analysis, but the outcomes appeared to contradict my initial premise whilst revealing that the interactions during the interviews between myself, the respondents and the sketchbook material (termed ‘discursive moves’) warranted examination. This persuaded me that the study’s focus should emerge through ‘evolved’ grounded theory rather than being stated a priori, which highlighted my presence in, and impact on, the data and prompted me to adopt a constructivist grounded theorising approach in combination with actor-network theory’s concepts of translation and circulating references. This study has thus been qualitative, relativist, iterative and multi-modal. Grounded theorising led to the identification of a number of categories and sub-categories of ideational move across the sample, and indicated that the respondents had used a ‘core’ of each. ‘Core’ categories comprised: making paper-based ideational moves, carrying out research and using photographic material. Several respondents also evidenced producing digital imagery and physical models. ‘Core’ sub-categories comprised using paper-based freehand perspective sketches, sketch diagrams and word-based approaches, plus supporting visuo-spatial research. Several respondents also evidenced producing paper-based freehand plan, section and elevation sketches, plus collage. Grounded theorising also revealed that each respondent had utilised a different combination of sub-categories, with different degrees of connectedness. I did not set out to evaluate the design outcomes showcased, but, as a spatial design academic and practitioner, I felt compelled to. This led to the tentative conclusion that respondents who added to the ‘core’ of categories and sub-categories and worked with greater connectedness appeared to produce more thoroughly-considered work, whilst those who forsook the ‘core’ and worked with less connectedness appeared to produce more unexpected results by allowing ‘…room for chaos…’: periods of confusion and surprise. Regarding the discursive moves, grounded theorising indicated that the sketchbook material tabled by each respondent during the study was not one fixed thing, but an abstraction using placing-for and directing-to techniques to focus attention on certain ideational moves and away from others. This made the sketchbook material a performance within the network of human and non-human actors who, in effect, co-constructed it as a temporary reality without necessarily realising this. Research into sketchbook material appears to regard it, once shared with others, as having the candour of a secret diary, and as eligible for formative and summative assessment because it documents design process authentically. My study, whilst not claiming generalisability, suggests that this view should be challenged. The new knowledge is now informing my future teaching practice and will, I hope, prompt other academics to investigate whether their own students manifest similar outcomes and, through this, contribute to wider discussions on the formative and summative assessment of undergraduate spatial design development activity.
CitationLayden, G.J. (2017) ';Room for chaos? : authenticity and performance in undergraduate spatial design students’ accounts of ideational work'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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