The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Kolfschoten and Lukosch: Cognitive learning efficiency & design patterns

Posted by yishaym on March 13, 2009

(cross-posted from

The 1st full paper for our symposium at CAL is now available for download (pdf).

When it comes to design patterns, there seem to be two types of people: born-again evangelists who would sell their mum to convince you that patterns are the cure to all your ails, and normal, decent folk who just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. In a recent conversation with Helen Sharp, I drew an analogy to Aubergines (“No! Patterns are nothing like aubergines – aubergines are yuck!”).

Gwen and Stephan are perhaps the trailblazers of a third type: they decided to apply a bit of scientific scrutiny to the claims of pattern evangelists. Using the theory of cognitive load, they ran a serious of experiments, observing the effect of design patterns on novice and expert designers. Results? “… This leads us to the tentative conclusion that the use of design patterns does not only affect the efficiency of the design effort, it also constitutes learning efficiency of novices to gain design skills and it enhances the quality of their design.

Gwendolyn Kolfschoten and Stephan Lukosch: Cognitive learning efficiency through the use of design patterns

Teaching Processes and systems in organizations become increasingly complex and dynamic. This requires managers of expert teams to quickly gain knowledge and insight outside their prime area of expertise. To transfer expert knowledge and to reuse design solutions design patterns can be used as building blocks for the development of systems and processes. The use of design patterns can increase the efficiency of design & implementation of solutions and in some cases it can enable automated implementation of design. This allows the expert to re-use components to accommodate new requirements in a more flexible way. However, the advantage of design patterns might go beyond re-use, design efficiency and flexibility. This paper argues that in addition to the benefits described above, there is a specific added value for the use of design patterns by novices to acquire design skills and domain knowledge. We propose that design patterns, due to their conceptual design, offer information in a way that enables the creation of better linkages between knowledge elements and improve the accessibility of the information in the memory. For this hypothesis we will analyze the literature on cognitive load and cognitive learning processes, and add to this three case study experiences in which novices and experts were offered design patterns to develop and implement systems and processes.

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“Eureka!” Sketching exercise

Posted by yishaym on August 29, 2008

One of the nice things that happened at the Singapore workshop was the introduction game we played.

Every one of us has these Eureka! moments; personal experiences were we learned something in a way that was etched into our memory. Positive, formative events of learning, the kind we wish to engender in the environments and activities we design.

To get people in the right mindset for the workshop we asked everyone to draw (scribble, sketch) one such moment. We distributed paper and markers, and instructed participants to tell the story of their Eureka! moment in images. They could use words as part of the drawing – in speech bubbles etc. – but not as a way of telling the story.

People stood up, showing their drawing, and we used that as a started for a discussion on design principles. We then hung the pictures on the walls, and handed out post-its for people to “tag” them with comments.

In fact, it was such a nice game, we thought maybe you’d want to play it too:

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