Novice designers' use of prototypes as communication tools

Sandeep Krishnakumar, Carlye Lauff, Christopher McComb, Catherine Berdanier, Jessica Menold

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Prototypes are critical design artifacts, and recent studies have established the ability of prototypes to facilitate communication. However, prior work suggests that novice designers often fail to perceive prototypes as effective communication tools, and struggle to rationalize design decisions made during prototyping tasks. To understand the interactions between communication and prototypes, design pitches from 40 undergraduate engineering design teams were collected and qualitatively analysed. Our findings suggest that students used prototypes to explain and persuade, aligning with prior studies of design practitioners. The results also suggest that students tend to use prototypes to justify design decisions and adverse outcomes. Future work will seek to understand novice designers’ use of prototypes as communication tools in further depth. Ultimately, this work will inform the creation of pedagogical strategies to provide students with the skills needed to effectively communicate design solutions and intent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2277-2286
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
StatePublished - 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: Aug 16 2021Aug 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation


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