Are 'the reflective practitioner' and 'learning cycles' suitable foundations for theories about designing and design cognition

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Engineering




Love, T. (2002, September). Are the Reflective Practitioner and Learning Cycles suitable Foundations for Theories about Designing and Design Cognition. In Proceedings of the 2002 Common Ground Design Research Society. Stoke On Trent, UK: Staffordshire University Press.


This paper challenges the use of the concepts of reflective practice and learning cycles as a basis for analysing designing, for building coherent theories about human designing and for developing design methodologies. It develops the argument via two paths: a review of the original formulation of the concepts of reflective practice/practitioners and learning cycles; and an analysis of the implications of recent findings in the areas of brain and neurology research for building theories about designing. The paper suggests researchers have over extended the use of the reflective practice and learning cycle concepts: concepts that were devised as relatively coarse structural formulations bringing together some of the more obvious macroscopic characteristics of individual human functioning for business consultants and educators. It argues that new micro-level understandings of design cognition emerging from brain and neurological research offer a better basis for building theories about designing.

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