Open Conference Systems, National Conference on the Beginning Design Student

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‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ Thinking: Stimuli Influenced Choice in Introductory Digital Design Pedagogy
Edward Becker

Last modified: 2016-12-13


As digital design rapidly expands the disciplinary knowledge base of related media, methods, and modes in architecture, cognition-based pedagogical strategies hold unique promise in introductory digital design education to increase knowledge transfer efficiency (i.e. learning) by aligning the learner’s natural schema-developmental processes with the inherent affordances of digital tooling methods. Through the employment of cognitive-based instructional strategies that seek to refine the designer’s own judgement and decision making processes, can academicians exploit the affordances of digital design technologies to enhance the architectural learning process in ways not possible in an analog age?

This paper frames and explores stimuli influenced choice and judgements under uncertainty for novice learners in digital design pedagogy, thereby probing the seminal cognitive processes underlying ‘why we choose what we choose’ in digitally-mediated iterative design processes. The Hot/Cold Model of cognition will be presented as a lens through which stimuli influenced choice can be explored relative to the development of pedagogical strategies that may increase knowledge transfer efficiency in introductory digital design pedagogy. As the mitigation of cognitive biases is essential for apt decision making, ‘hot’ system thinking will be explored in parallel to related biases. Cognitive biases particularly applicable to architectural design will be introduced with a distinct emphasis placed upon those that may be augmented or compounded in digital design environments. These include the endowment effect, availability bias, planning fallacy, egocentric empathy gap, and others.

The literature that explores the distinct differentiation between design-learning processes in digital design as compared to analog design will be presented first. This foundational introduction will then be followed by an overview of the knowledge transfer process particular to both expert and novice learners relative to the inherent pedagogical challenges and affordances of digital design media. ‘Hot’ and cold’ system thinking as a foundation for pedagogical development in introductory architectural design will then be presented. The author will draw upon research by Ausubel, Eastman, Loewenstein, Metcalfe, Mischel, Mitchell, R. Oxman, Tversky, Schön, and others.

Cognition-based pedagogical strategies that seek to refine the designer’s own judgement hold promise in the emerging field of digital design as progressive technologies and processes are plagued by missed opportunities for the learner’s own decision-making intellectual advancement. Theory and concepts from the decision sciences and digital design in architecture are cross-pollinated in this study.