Three dimensions of reflective thinking in solving design problems: A conceptual model

Yi Chun Hong, Ikseon Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Design tasks are omnipresent in our everyday lives. Previous research shows that reflective thinking is one of the critical factors in solving design problems. Related research has attempted to capture designers' reflective thinking process. Yet a close inspection of designers' reflective thinking taking place during their design process demands further effort. To understand designer's reflective practice and to find better ways to promote novices' reflective thinking in solving real-world design problems, a comprehensive model was developed. This model identified three dimensions to guide the understanding of designers' reflective thinking during a design process: (1) the timing of reflection, indicating the points in the process where reflective thinking occurs, (2) the objects of reflection, showing the different types of objects that designers may reflect upon, and (3) the levels of reflection, referring to the different levels of designers' reflection. This model provides for meaningful aspects of reflective thinking to be situated in a design process, which can guide educators and instructional designers in developing appropriate learning environments for facilitating novice and practicing designers' reflective thinking. Moreover, the model can serve as a stepping stone for further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-710
Number of pages24
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Design problems
  • Ill-defined problems
  • Ill-structured problems
  • Instructional design
  • Problem solving
  • Reflection
  • Reflective thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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