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Visual communication of technology: its impact on designing and innovation in industrial and engineering design education

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posted on 24.10.2012, 13:45 authored by Cheng-Siew Beh
Visual communication (VC) resources can be seen as playing an increasingly important role in delivery and learning systems in today s design and technology education. The performance of current tools and resources is the primary concern of this research, and particularly whether they take full advantage of VC when delivering technological information to industrial design (ID) and engineering design (ED) students. This thesis sought key principles behind the visual communication of technology (VCT) and its association to designing, creativity and innovation through a literature survey. The findings concluded that there were many such assertions made with little evidence concerning the associations suggested. Some guiding sources and key emerging principles (KEPs) for good VCT practices were established. A miniature-kite-designing exercise was conducted as a case study for the purpose of examining the links between VCT, designing and creativity and/or innovation. Kite-technological-information posters were used as the VCT tool for the kite-designing case. A comparative study of kite-designing was conducted in Malaysia to check the reliability of the study, and another validation study was carried out for the purpose of establishing the validity of the data gathering. Visual technological information (VTI) for kite design (or a kite-poster) was refined accordingly to the KEPs established from the literature review, and its visual impact was tested through the use of eye-tracking technology. Some selected current and historical visual tools, which have been used in design and technology communication and were recognised as having positive impacts were analysed and articulated in order to reveal a deeper understanding of the KEPs. These were further validated through eye-tracking of reading patterns of participants on those selected visuals. The perceptual responses toward those visuals were also recorded and analysed. A theoretical research framework was established to investigate VTI representation used in books by Ashby (1999) and Ashby and Johnson (2002), in new authors scholarly papers (METU, 2010), and of the author s analysis and redesign of some of those studied VTIs based on the KEPs emerging from the research. A questionnaire survey was conducted within a number of higher education institutions in 3 regions around the world in order to achieve reliable data gathering. This third case study was validated through experts discussion of the findings and related issues. Within these three case studies, a mixture of scientific (using the eye-tracker device) and conventional methods (questionnaires, interviews, discussion group and comparative studies), and also others methods such as design workshops, analysing existing resources, using own practice of design-and-redesign activities were conducted to provide quantitative and qualitative measurements to empirically validate the literature search. Evidence of links between VCT, designerly activities which involved knowledge, skills and values within the technological communication, and of facilitating creativity was obtained. Empirical evidence showed that VTIs were effective in communicating knowledge, skills and values; where the KEPs criteria had played essential roles in enriching the visual emphasis of VTIs. The redesigning exercise using the author s own practice, which articulated the KEPs through the redesign of the existing VTIs for the purpose of more effective VCT, again obtained significant evidence of visual effectiveness and easy understanding capability. Evidence from the analysis of 2 books on materials technology for ID and ED students, views from the 2 materials experts, and the literature review suggested that ID and ED students require difference types of representational models and graphical strategies of VCT in their learning. However, the empirical data from the research, which was supported by one of the materials experts, suggested that ID and ED students even with different cultural backgrounds did not require different VTIs or the use of different VCT strategies for effective communication.



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© Cheng-Siew Beh

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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