The current paper seeks to answer the questions: When designers use the computer as sketching media in the step of concept generation, will cognition and thinking be the same as when using conventional media? If there are differences between the two kinds of media, what kind of differences will there be?…
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This research states that the utilisation of three-dimensional computer-aided design has developed into a routine practice in most design fields including architecture, engineering, archaeology and conservation. Besides these professions, computer aided design has also found much use in science, technology and medical studies. A comparison of the concept generation stage of design between computer-aided design and traditional design is a particularly interesting field of study. Research has been done into computer-aided conceptual design which has been undertaken with quite successful results adoptable to industrial design but the visual thinking undertaken when sketching has not been investigated to significant detail. A critical analysis of a study into the cognition and visual thinking of designers in computer-aided design and how this compares to conventional media concept generation is useful in development of headways in the design of online learning environments. The study analysed here-in compares and contrasts computer-aided and conventional media in concept generation in design and whether there are any performance differences when using the two. Narayan et al. defines computer-aided design as any type of design activity that makes use of a computer to develop, analyse or modify an engineering system. The designer creates an image on the computer using geometric elements including lines and circles. Manipulations on the image can then be undertaken through magnification, reduction in size and rotation or other methods until the desired modification is achieved. The impact of computer-aided design on traditional design has been grand with new areas being opened up including shape grammars, database system design, expert systems and knowledge-based systems (Won 2001, p. 320). The traditional theoretical design models can be applied in computer-aided design, for example the Pahl and Beitz model in which the steps involved are clarification of the task, conceptual design, embodiment of the design and finally detailing of the design (Jaquero 2009, pp. 1-3). Much of the research that has been undertaken has focused on the application of computer-aided design on later stages of the entire design process. There is however need for study into the concept generation stage of computer-aided design. The work of Won and fellow researchers was based on computer-aided design and visual thinking with concept generation as the problem statement. A critical analysis of this study in terms of the statement of the problem, research questions, hypothesis, methodology, results and data analyses and finally the conclusion will be undertaken with an aim to obtain information that is important in the development and design of online learning environments. Statement of the Problem in the Study Won’s study identifies the lack of research into cognitive thinking of designers in computer-aided design as a major source of the problem statement for his study. The fact that computer-aided design is flourishing while research in sketching through conventional media-pen and paper is largely deficient is also identified as another major source of the problem statement (320). Research Questions A review of the study reveals that the major research question that guided the work was “when designers use the computer as sketching media in the step of concept generation, will cognition and thinking be the same as when using conventional media? If there are differences between the two kinds of media, what kind of differences will there be?” The authors also formulated a minor question for the study; “if designers use these two kinds of sketching media in the conception generation stage, will there be design performance differences?” (Won et al. 2008, p. 320). Study Objective and Hypothesis The authors identify their main objective as a research into the
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