How Designers Learn to Learn:
Connecting Motivation and Cognitive Process in Practice- based Research Design
Performing research under the umbrella of design engages various methodological approaches. Scholars such as Christopher Frayling (1993) position dominant modes of art and design research as research-/nto, research-through, and research-for, while more contemporarily Laurene Vaughan (2017) argues for the value and importance of practice-based design research as an embodied “research-a//” approach. Through practice-based research, the traditionally distinct role of designer-maker and research-writer often merge for “making,” both in engaging theoretical frameworks and in focusing research activities. However, in disciplines such as architecture and industrial design that have traditionally favored investigating the measurable performance of “products” as primarily positivistic, the individual’s motivation to initiate directed research activities may be challenged by merging different modes of knowledge acquisition and production. This leads us to question in what ways understanding individual motivation and self-concept can inform the research process under the umbrella of design research. By more closely examining Jacquelynne Eccles (1987) educational model of Expectancy Value Theory, this paper focuses on the rarely acknowledged issue of an individual’s motivational beliefs and self-concept in the practice of design research. This exploration begins to conceptually connect these influential factors, especially a designer/researcher’s expectancies and values toward certain tasks, to their learning behavior and performance. Specifically, by looking at traditions in institutional pedagogy and their emphasis on visual and textual knowledge and content provides evidence of a separation between “thinking of things” and “writing design.” Using Donald Shon’s (1984) concept of “reflective practice” in design, research practices and activities can be viewed as successions of representation and conscious learning that are accessible, manipulatable, and flexible. Through practice-based design research — or research-*// — this paper posits that an individual’s motivation, expectancies, values, and experiences are reflected in their “knowledge performances” and research design.