Can visual facilitation beat verbal facilitation?

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Boedhoe, Roché (1); Badke-Schaub, Petra (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Build & Beyond, The Netherlands; 2: Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 449-457
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


This paper analyzes the effect of visual and verbal facilitation in an interdisciplinary design setting. The depending variables were (the process of gaining) cross and shared understanding in the group, the outcome variable was design creativity. Based on literature research and a field study, a visual facilitation protocol materialized as a set of rules has been developed which guides a facilitator. The protocol has been tested by conducting twenty between-group experiments with (non-design) Master students following visual and verbal facilitation. In the visual facilitation condition, the groups were guided by means of sketching and in the verbal condition the groups were guided verbally. The results show significantly higher shared understanding when working with the visual facilitation protocol. However, visual facilitation resulted in lower creativity—in particular, novelty. These findings suggest that visual facilitation might be an effective method for constructing shared understanding during interdisciplinary design collaboration, but at the same time the high level of sharedness between team members negatively relates to design creativity.

Keywords: Creativity, Sketching, Collaborative design, Design process

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