Design Rationale

Design Rationale  

Design rationale can act as a Creativity Support Tool. Recent findings from the field of creativity research present new opportunities that can guide the implementation and evaluation of design rationale, with respect to its ability to foster creative processes and outcomes. For example, design rationale that encourages explanations of failures through analogies can foster recovery through creative transfer, enabling progress in new directions.  It can be implemented as fine-grained descriptions of every decision or as coarse macro-level articulation with consequent impact on fluency, flexibility, and creativity. Intrinsically motivated transdisciplinary open source communities offer an opportunity to observe a form of ad-hoc design rational, through formal and informal information transfer links within forums that generate a combination of access to common tools, expertise, and mentorship.  A discussion of a spectrum of implementations of design rational informs strategies to mitigate conflicts and advance inherent synergies between design rationale and creativity.

Through a series of collaborations, we have developed wearable computing sensors with Alex (Sandy) Pentland's Human Dynamics Lab and Rosalind Picard's Affective computing Groups at the MIT Media Lab and deployed them within Mary Czerwinski Community Technologies Group at Microsoft Research and within transdisciplinary research groups at Arizona State University. 



Left: Pilot data coded from the design activities of 11 individuals                 participating within 3 teams engaged in Atman's playground design              exercise.

Right: The x-axis represents time and the y-axis depicts unique design actives, e.g., problem definition, ideation, modeling,feasibility,                   information gathering, reflection, etc.

"Through studies of individuals, Cynthia Atman (see related research) has found that novices exhibit simple or impoverished patterns when compared to  experts, who exhibit complex iterative patterns that emphasize reflection. In the context of fine-grain analysis of design actives, how individuals of various expertise behave and interact when they join teams remains an open question."

We are advancing tools and systems to automate the fine-grain analysis of teams and to provide interventions that act as creativity support tools.



Burleson, W. and Tripathi, P. (in review 2011) Mining Creativity Research to Inform Design Rationale in Open Source Communities, Human Technology: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Humans in ICT Environments on Creativity and Rationale in Software Design, Agora Center, University of Jyväskylä, in review 2011.

Burleson, W. (2005), “Opportunities for Creativity, Motivation, and Self-Actualization in Learning Systems,” Special Issue IJHCS Creativity and Computational Support, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, January 2005.

Carol, John M., ed. Creativity and Rationale. 2012 ed. Springer, 2012. Print.

Related Research 

Amabile, T. M. "The Social Psychology of Creativity: A Componential Conceptualization." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45 (1983): 357-377

Amabile, Teresa M., Sigal G. Barsade, Jennifer S. Mueller, and Barry M. Staw. "Affect and Creativity at Work." Administrative Science Quarterly 50, no. 3 (September 2005): 367-403.

Atman, C.J., Cardella, M.E., Turns, J. and Adams, R. (2005). Comparing freshman and senior engineering design processes: an in-depth follow-up study. Design Studies (26) 325-357. 

Atman, C.J. and Turns, J. (2001) Studying engineering design learning: four verbal protocol analysis studies in M. McCracken, W. Newstetter and C. Eastman (eds.) Design learning and knowing. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hilldale, NJ.

Atman, C.J. Chimka J.R.; Bursic K.M.; Nachtmann H.L. (1999). A comparison of freshman and senior engineering design processes. Design Studies. 20(2), 131-152.