The 21st century is marked by an increase in the information sources available to designers who solve design problems. Current design thinking analysis procedures and theoretical frameworks do however not explain how designers interact with a variety of social, conceptual and physical information sources when designing. Ongoing research is required to not only understand how designers interact with these information sources; but also to find suitable methodologies with which to investigate these interactions. The purpose of this study was to examine the way in which Grade 8 technology learners interacted with social, conceptual and physical information sources during the early phases of the design process. In order to explore the cognitive mechanisms of learners when interacting with a variety of information sources, we relied on both extended design cognition and activity systems theory and implemented a mixed methods design. Three medium resourced secondary schools were conveniently selected from which nine Grade 8 participants were purposefully selected. Verbal and visual data were generated and documented by means of a think aloud protocol methodology, and analysed quantitatively and qualitatively by utilising linkography. The potential contribution of the study is twofold. Theoretically, the study adds to the existing knowledge base on learners’ design cognition by shedding light on the nature of their interactions with physical, social and conceptual information sources when solving design problems during STEM tasks. Secondly, the study makes a methodological contribution by illustrating how linkography can be utilised to analyse the design cognition used by learners during design activities.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nicolaas Blom, Ronél Ferreira, Alfred Bogaers
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