Problem structuring as co-inquiry

Robin S. Adams, Richard J. Aleong, Molly H. Goldstein, Freddy Solis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The purpose of this study was to investigate the social process of a group working together in an authentic work setting as individuals collaboratively map a problem space. We used a collaborative inquiry paradigm that mirrors a perspective of design as a social process of interacting object worlds as a lens for investigation. We (1) the dimensions of the problem space the group collaboratively renders; (2) the collaborative inquiry (co-inquiry) practices used; and (3) the ways by which the group renders coherence to the problem space. We found that the group traversed a multidimensional and integrated problem space linking human-centered perspectives with organizational perspectives for realizing human-centered products and services. We characterized co-inquiry practices as four modes of evoking ways of knowing (experiential, presentational, propositional, practical) and two modes of building coherence (intersubjectivity and critical subjectivity practices). Finally, through the analysis of a rich episode, we characterize rendering coherence of a problem space as an unfolding co-inquiry process. This study offers a new perspective on design as a co-inquiry process – a social process of building coherence to co-construct valid knowledge. By using the collaborative inquiry paradigm, this study also offers practical implications for design methodologies, facilitating design learning, and helping designers develop self-awareness as co-inquirers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnalysing Design Thinking
Subtitle of host publicationStudies of Cross-Cultural Co-Creation
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781351802833
ISBN (Print)9781138632578
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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