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Does Sketching Skill Relate to Good Design?

[+] Author Affiliations
Jorge G. Cham

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Maria C. Yang

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Paper No. DETC2005-85499, pp. 301-308; 8 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5a: 17th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Long Beach, California, USA, September 24–28, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4742-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3766-1
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Sketching is an activity that takes place throughout the engineering design process, and is often linked to design cognition. This preliminary study identifies different skills that contribute to a designer’s sketching ability and explores how those skills might be related to sketch fluency and design outcome. A positive correlation was found between the quantity of sketches produced and sketch skills that emphasize drawing facility, but a negative correlation was found between sketch quantity and a skill related to mechanism visualization. Sketching is sometimes considered a generic skill, but this study suggests that there are differences among the different types of sketching skills in the context of engineering design. No notable relationship was found between sketching ability and design outcome. Results also suggest that students provided with explicit instruction in sketching tended to draw more overall, although there are likely many other factors involved.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Design



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