Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Evaluating the effectiveness of using visual stimuli methods on architecture students’ design creativity

2 Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Shahid Behesti University, Tehran, Iran


Background and Objectives: During design process, images as visual stimuli are significant tools in reaching creative design ideas. So this issue has resulted in conducting extensive studies in the field of educational technology on the methods of using visual stimuli as an educational tool. Since the visual stimuli can be categorized based on their similarity to the design problem or their quality (clear, ambiguous), in some of the studies, the impact of various types of visual stimuli on students’ design creativity has been examined. The level of students is another factor which could have an influence on students’ creativity when they were using visual stimuli. Also, in some studies, the relationship between the type of the design task and the visual stimuli has been investigated.  However, there is no comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of these methods in the field of architecture design education. As a result, the purpose of the present research is examining the effectiveness of the methods of using visual stimuli in design training.   
Methods: In the present study, first, a framework for using visual stimuli based on previous studies was suggested which consisted of two sections: in the first section, the relationship between different types of visual stimuli and different aspects of creativity was determined; the second section, the factors influencing the methods of using the visual stimuli by the students were determined that consisted of students’ level, the type of the design task, and the design problem. Then,the methodofpeer review was applied to evaluate the effectiveness of the methods of using the visual stimuli in the design training. As a result, expert teachers in architecture from Iran and the United States evaluated the compiled text. In this regard, the teachers’ opinions were recorded through interviews and then their opinions were written and analyzed by a qualitative coding method. Peer review as the method of analysis was applied to investigate the validity of those methods. First participants’ ideas were gathered by interview. All their utterances were audio recorded and transcribed. In the next step the data were analyzed by a qualitative coding method. So the utterances of the participants were segmented based on different sections. Then, in the next stage, their content were codified in terms of validation, similar experience; criticism or suggestions.
Findings: The opinions of the expert teachers were examined according to two sections of methods of using visual stimuli and also the effective conditions for using them in design education. Besides confirming the methods related to the types of stimulus and design task, the participants also provided numerous educational experiences on the proper interpretation of various types of stimuli. In the second section, besides confirming the impact of the students’ level, and the type of the design problem, some of the teachers offered criticisms and suggestions regarding the classifications of these problems.
Conclusion: The results of peer review, besides confirming the methods of using visual stimuli, provide approaches that can improve the effectiveness of the methods of using visual stimuli in design education. Moreover, the expert teachers offered criticisms and suggestions regarding some problems and also added some suggestions. For example, the visual stimulus which has more similarity to the design problem has more effect on students’ design creativity than those images which have less similarity to the design problem.  Or when using the ambiguous sketches related to the expert designers, the way they use their sketches and the stages through which these sketches are transformed into the final idea should be taken into consideration and these processes should also be taught to the students. In other words, students need to know how expert designers transform those ambiguous images to final design solution. Also, categorizing the design problems into formal and functional has ambiguities and other methods of categorization should be used.   The results of analyzing the opinions of the expert teachers can be used for future research besides the development of the subject.


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