Thinking and Re-Thinking Verbal Protocol Analysis in Design Research

DS 58-2: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 2, Design Theory and Research Methodology, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Zainal Abidin, Shahriman; Christoforidou, Despina; Liem, Andre
Series: ICED
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 1-12


This paper assesses the appropriateness of verbal protocol analysis (VPA) as a means of analysing design activity. Design activity includes human cognitive abilities such as creativity, synthesis, and problem solving. These can vary depending on the design disciplines and design practices involved such as industrial design, engineering design, etc. In order to find out how these abilities are expressed, a study of VPA was carried out based on interviews with two researchers from different disciplines - product design and machine design - and their experiences were compared. The issues in this paper cover general reflections, positive aspects, negative aspects, evaluation (Meta-VPA), ethics and conclusions. On the basis of the results from the analysis of the interviews on VPA, it seems to be significant to carefully consider the reasons for mapping and analysing design activity and how the results may be put into practice.

Keywords: appropriateness, cognition, ethics, meta-VPA, methodology, verbal protocol analysis


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