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middle-school students working in groups to identify three
unfamiliar artefacts. The activity described in this paper
was aimed at sensitising students to the close link
between form and function and to bring a certain amount
of uncertainty in the tasks before the actual design task. It
was part of a larger study (Ara et al 2009) that explored
students’ ideas about design and designers before and
after they engaged in design related activities. Twenty two
students of class 7 worked in six groups of three or four members and the entire exchange was video-recorded. The verbatim transcription of the conversation within the groups and the actions and gestures executed by students were categorised. Groups came up with various accidental functions for the three artefacts and only three groups were successful in identifying the intended functions of all three artefacts. All groups utilised similar strategies while trying to identify the artefacts however they differed in the frequency of use of these strategies. Cognitive strategies included active discussions within the group and handling strategies involved manipulation of the artefacts by the group members. Groups which were less interactive, less critical of others ideas and less defensive of their own ideas were unsuccessful in identifying the intended functions of the artefacts.
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