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Opening the Black Box: Developing metrics to assess the cognitive processes of prototyping

J. Nelson, and J. Menold
2020, Design Studies

While past work has demonstrated the ability of prototypes to boost design project performance, influence stakeholder buy in, and improve design team communication, prototyping remains a black-box process. The specific mechanisms through which prototypes affect the emergence of design knowledge remains unknown. To date, there has been little work to operationalize theory and enable the fine grain measurement of cognitive processes during prototyping tasks. In short, there is a lack of appropriate metrics to establish the intangible value of prototyping tasks via the measurement of the knowledge generated. The purpose of this work is to propose metrics to more holistically assess the value of prototypes. The proposed metrics are then implemented in a design project to validate the utility of these metrics in studying prototyping tendencies.