Design Education and Learning









Design Thinking: A Rod For Design’s Own Back?  

Aysar Ghassan

Coventry University, UK

Keywords: design thinking, scientific thinking; inductive reasoning; wicked problems; STEM funding; empathy


Design Thinking is frequently argued to be unlike scientific thinking. Existing literature questions the validity of this differentiation with regards to: the characterisation of scientific thinking in design research; the notion that designers are more effective than scientists at generating empathy with users; the idea that scientific problems are not wicked. Such research posits commonalities between the way designers and scientists think. In further investigating the relationship between design and scientific thinking, this paper explores the issue of inductive reasoning. Frequently, research suggests that designers do not rely on inductive reasoning. This paper revisits Rowe’s (1987) study which observes designers to commonly employ it. Rowe’s work provides further evidence of a link between design and scientific thinking. This paper calls for additional research into such links in order to optimise design’s potential. In also suggests that highlighting commonalities between design and scientific thinking may support access to government funding, and thus the future prosperity of design in UK universities. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

download the paper (PDF)

Cite this paper: Ghassan, A. (2016). Design Thinking: A Rod For Design’s Own Back? Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

Take part in the discussion: Your comments