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April 05, 2008

What is the Researchable Question?

Massaging Media conference panel with Meredith Davis, Jamie Gray & Deborah Littlejohn.

Distinguish between Master's level inquiry and Doctoral level inquiry.

If you can describe what your potential outcome is, you are not really in research mode.

components of espistemologies:
Relativism | Phenomenology | Positivism

master's students tend to be toward the left here
doctoral students may be all over, but will work toward the right.

NC State does not allow self-indulgent projects, students have to envision their projects and outcomes as transferable to some novel circumstance.

For masters students, guided prompts:
Content Interests, ways of working, future goals
reaffirm and amplify student predilections

Jamie will talk to us about her process:
Master's recipient:
Speculative Making as the domain/method
needed a lens to focus her effort within limited time.
"Digital Collecting" became Jamie's focus.

"how can a collecting behaviors inform the design of a set of interactive tools?"

parsed and reparsed, annotated and reannotated the original question:

digital collecting behaviors
serendipitous discovery
gathering & creating experiences
subjective & associative categorization
sharing & collaborating
speculative intractive tools

a demo follows that offers a "loaded" icon of diigolet style functions that remixes a set of visual indices of collection that reside on the desktop, that can become access points for the collected information.

Jamie chose to make a set of small studies focused by the question.

Jamie's next speculation is a cursor loaded with tags that collects info-content in the way of Katamari Damacy. The cursor becomes a mosaic of the collection.

"how can digital collecting behaviors inform the aesthetics and functionality of ...."

Profession is more that an occupation and becomes a field of inquiry in its own right.
What is worth doing?
This question is often the focus of the first year of a PhD program, mapping the field in it's entirety so that one can know with certainty that one is offering a novel contribution to that field.

Deborah Littlejohn
Still encounters resistance to research in design.
Research builds a shared knowledge base for the profession.
Is shared to ensure rigor
Is rigorous so it is seen to be credible to others.
The sharing process is prescribed;

Epistemology: how we know what we know
Methodology: How we go about knowing it

Defining the Domain of Inquiry:
Deborah falls within Teaching & Learning within Design Education, in contexts of tradtional and non-traditoinal methods.

open up to pedagogy, organization, digital technologies, space
each of these components is further opened up, and their interrelationships are in turn investigated.

how do these components act in concert?
these components are infrastructures.


Opens up for discussion.

Q: can you talk a little about NC State as a model? It seems rare in having 3 levels of investigation.

A. We are a college of design with a diversity of curricula/specializations in Design. We have tried to be very clear what the differences are between the levels. We do not mix them in classes. We do not have Masters' students doing mainstream design-office type work. They have professional portfolios, they dont' need that. Doctoral students come in at the research level.

We shouldn't do things that incapacitate students in one level to move up to the next.

Q: Can you reflect for us what the Doctoral Student of 2015 look like?
A: We have been cherry picking methodologies and adapting them to make them appropriate to design. I find myself looking at what a dissertation will look like, and find myself purging texts of Acronyms because we want the field to read these. There is a history of doctoral research in architecture that assiduously quantifies things that don't matter. It seems that someone was attempting to validate something that they already had a gut feeling for.

Q: for Deborah about the field studies for her cases.
A: she is still developing a framework for making those choices.

Q: can you talk about mentorship
A: emphasis on interdisciplinarity calls "affinity faculty" into play. During the candidate selection process one faculty member has to stand up and say "I will mentor that student"

Posted by SWEAT at April 5, 2008 08:51 AM