Learning from experts: fostering extended thinking in the early phases of the design process

  • Grietjie Haupt


Empirical evidence on the way in which expert designers from different domains cognitively connect their internal processes with external resources is presented in the context of an extended cognition model. The article focuses briefly on the main trends in the extended design cognition theory and in particular on recent trends in information processing and embodiment theory. The aim of the paper is to reflect on the implications of an understanding of expert design cognition as an extended system, which can account for complexity and non-linearity in design thinking and problem-solving, for technology and design education. This is achieved by showing the relevance of the cross-correlations and the dynamics involved at the intersection of cognitive phases, intention-driven decision making and embodiment principles of experts for novice education in technology and design. It is argued that twentieth century one-sided approaches to design education no longer adequately serve the needs of the twenty first century. It is further argued that a combined information-processing + embodiment approach may be the answer. The article presents salient results of a case study using think-aloud-protocol studies in a quasi-experimental format that was used as it has proven to be a central instrument yielding scientific data in the cognitive science paradigm. Results suggested extended design environments may be particularly well-suited to the mediation of design thinking. Finally, based on these results, the article examines how educators can exploit the combined approach to advance the making of connections between the inner and outer world in design education.


Design cognition Expert Extended cognition Early phases Information processes Embodiment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology EducationUniversity of PretoriaHillcrestSouth Africa

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