Narrative Qualities of Design Argumentation

  • Colin M. GrayEmail author


The narrative qualities of a design presentation and subsequent critique comprise a design argument, distilling designers’ rationale for their design, rooted in their process. In this paper, I analyze two consecutive design presentations from an introductory undergraduate human-centered design studio, documenting the argumentation structures students rely upon when “selling” their design. Dominant argumentation structures of these presentation events are described and related to narrative in a human-centered design context.


Design argumentation Design education Human-centered design User experience (UX) design Narrative Design process Design presentation 


  1. Blevis, E., & Siegel, M. (2005). The explanation for design explanations. In 11th international conference on human-computer interaction: Interaction design education and research: Current and future trends.Google Scholar
  2. Boling, E., & Gray, C. M. (2015). Designerly tools, sketching, and instructional designers and the guarantors of design. In B. Hokanson, G. Clinton, & M. W. Tracey (Eds.), The design of learning experience: Creating the future of educational technology (pp. 109–126). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Scholar
  3. Boling, E., Siegel, M. A., Smith, K. M., & Parrish, P. (2013). Student goes on a journey; stranger rides into the classroom: Narratives and the instructor in the design studio. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 12(2), 179–194. Scholar
  4. Cooper, A. (2004). The inmates are running the asylum. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  5. Dalsgaard, P., Dindler, C., & Fritsch, J. (2013). Design argumentation in academic design education. In Proceedings of Nordes (Vol. 1, pp. 426–429). Copenhagen, Denmark/Mälmo, Sweden.Google Scholar
  6. Dannels, D. P. (2005). Performing tribal rituals: A genre analysis of crits in design studios. Communication Education, 54(2), 136–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dannels, D., Gaffney, A., & Martin, K. (2008). Beyond content, deeper than delivery: What critique feedback reveals about communication expectations in design education. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(2), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dewey, J. (1938/2005). Art as experience. New York: Perigee Trade.Google Scholar
  9. Duschl, R. A., & Osborne, J. (2002). Supporting and promoting argumentation discourse in science education. Studies in Science Education, 38, 39–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Erickson, T. (1996). Design as storytelling. Interactions, 3(4), 30–35. Scholar
  11. Fischer, G., Lemke, A. C., McCall, R., & Morch, A. I. (1991). Making argumentation serve design. Human-Computer Interaction, 6(3–4), 393–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gray, C. M. (2013). Discursive structures of informal critique in an HCI design studio. In Nordes 2013: Experiments in design research (pp. 110–118). Copenhagen, Denmark/Malmö, Sweden.Google Scholar
  13. Gray, C. M. (2014). Evolution of design competence in UX practice. In CHI’14: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1645–2654). New York: ACM Press. Scholar
  14. Klebesadel, H., & Kornetsky, L. (2009). Critique as signature pedagogy in the arts. In R. Gurung, N. Chick, & A. Haynie (Eds.), Exploring signature pedagogies: Approaches to teaching disciplinary habits of mind (pp. 99–120). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Martin, B., & Hanington, B. (2012). Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Morton, J., & O’Brien, D. (2006). Selling your design: Oral communication pedagogy in design education. Communication Education, 54(1), 6–19. Scholar
  17. McCarthy, J., & Wright, J. (2004). Technology as experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  18. Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: Intentional change in an unpredictable world (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Oak, A. (1998). Assessment and understanding: An analysis of talk in the design studio critique. In Engendering communication—Proceedings from the fifth Berkeley women and language conference. Berkeley, CA: University of California.Google Scholar
  20. Parrish, P. (2014). Designing for the half-known world: Lessons for instructional designers from the craft of narrative fiction. In B. Hokanson & A. Gibbons (Eds.), Design in educational technology (pp. 261–270). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Scholar
  21. Quesenbery, W., & Brooks, K. (2010). Storytelling for user experience: Crafting stories for better design. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.Google Scholar
  22. Smith, K. M., & Boling, E. (2009). What do we make of design? Design as a concept in educational technology. Educational Technology, 49(4), 3–17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations