Taylor, Kermode and Roberts’ (2007, pp.5) definition of a paradigm as being ‘a broad view or perspective of something’, doesn’t address the impact a certain paradigm may have on the research itself.
Weaver and Olson’s (2006, pp. 460) definition illustrates that point more readily:
“Paradigms are patterns of beliefs and practices that regulate inquiry within a discipline by providing lenses, frames and processes through which investigation is accomplished”.
As a result paradigms reflect more about the researcher than the research. The lens through which this Creative Media research project was viewed, was that of Design Cognitivism.
1.1 Design Cognitivism
Design Cognitivism is not a conventional, academic research paradigm, but a term that I believe reflects the true paradigmatic stance of this project.
Design is recognised as a problem-solving activity. It is a discipline, a process and the resultant artefact of that process.
Cognition relates to the process by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used (Neisser, 1967).
Combining Design and Cognition would fit with Weaver’s and Olsen’s definition of a paradigm, and there is precedent for Design to be identified as a ‘pattern of beliefs’.
1.2 Design as a ‘way of thinking’
Design as a ‘way of thinking’ was first identified by Herbert A. Simon (1969). Since then many have expanded on the theory to arrive at a definition for design thinking that encompasses creativity, rationality and a sensitivity for context.
Design thinking is also defined as:
“a methodology for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result.” (Institute for Responsibility, Innovation and Sustanability )
For those who may wish for greater adherence to convention, the closest established paradigmatic fit seems to be Constructivism, a descendant of Interpretivism. The unit of analysis in Interpretevist research is ‘meaning’, instead of an objective reality or empirical truth which can be proven or disproven.
“Interpretivists assume that knowledge and meaning are acts of interpretation hence there is no objective knowledge which is independent of thinking, reasoning humans.” (Gephart, 1999).
Knowledge within a Constructivist paradigm is considered to be context-dependent, or as Schwandt (1994, pp. 125) put it:
“What we take to be objective knowledge and truth is the result of the perspective.”
Constructivists are also interested in intersubjectivity – the process of knowing others’ minds as it occurs through processes, which are considered social constructs, such as language, social interaction, and written texts.