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Re-Thinking Group Work in Basic Design Education: A Quantitative Analysis of Adapting Exquisite Corpse and Decision Tree Approaches [Megaron]
Megaron. Ahead of Print: MEGARON-40222 | DOI: 10.14744/megaron.2023.40222  

Re-Thinking Group Work in Basic Design Education: A Quantitative Analysis of Adapting Exquisite Corpse and Decision Tree Approaches

Doğuş University, Faculty Of Art And Design, Department Of Architecture

Re-Thinking Group Work in Basic Design Education: A Quantitative Analysis of Adapting Exquisite Corpse and Decision Tree Approaches

Problem Statement

The design studio of the first year, mostly known as Basic Design, is a pivotal course that helps students solve design problems. In this course, a wide variety of approaches with epistemological and content differences have been utilized over space and time. Perspectives in design, also continuously change such that the field requires further studies providing information and empirical evidence on the validity and success of such distinct methods in use, whereas the area of teaching and learning is argued to remain undocumented to the academic community. This argument is extended by using an empirical study for knowledge in the architectural design studio in the search to identify how architectural design studios deal with and teach the aesthetic aspects of architecture. As such, introducing the curriculum and methods in Basic Design education and presenting empirical findings of its effects is argued to be worthwhile for many design scholars. Therefore, this study investigates and presents the use of Exquisite Corpse’ (EC), which is an art-stemmed approach, in basic design education and evaluate its repercussions.


Previously, Exquisite Corpse (EC) has been applied in design education in several other universities at different levels. Yet, all had distinct conceptualizations and therefore ended up in different results. In this study, EC was incorporated in the design problem to enable students make intuitive decisions as a group, whereas decision taking processes of the novice students were also targeted and addressed through use of decision trees (DT). Therefore, combining EC with DT, which relies on formal algorithms and is attributed to the rationalistic aspects of the design process, this study aimed to provide benefits of using both EC and DT in the design process.


Based on the purpose of the study and the nature of the context, a descriptive correlational research design is employed. At the end of the semester, an online survey was distributed to the students to understand how students worked as groups in the Basic Design Studio and to address the use and benefits of EC and DT in the design processes. Through employing a questionnaire survey tool for data collection, this investigation is positioned to explore the relationship among the study variables (students’ decision-making process: use of decision tree; choices on clusters of decision tree; and use of exquisite corpse method whether spatial or labor division) and utilized to gain information about students’ unique experiences and personal thoughts about EC and DT. Both approaches are analyzed by descriptive statistics and chi-square analysis for the correlational investigation. The unit of analysis used for the study is students.


Since the aim was to enhance our understanding of the design processes of novice designers and more specifically, the use of EC as a guiding instrument in a design problem and its effect on students' grades, this study designated the Basic Design Studio students in the Department of Architecture Department at XXX University. After missing cases were omitted, the raw data consisted of 73 cases.


Two primary ways have been used by the students to employ EC in their work. They either selected certain parts of the models (denoted as ‘areal-spatial division of) or alternatively, they picked from their selection of ‘concept cluster’ (denoted as ‘conceptual division of labor’) and designed according to these concepts individually. The results of the study indicate that spatial division of labor has been the far most preferred approach among students and was found to be leading slightly higher grades on average.

In terms of use DT, students were found to develop their decision trees before they started designing which aligns with the aims of making a decision tree in the first place. In literature, DT is described to be a facilitator for the novice designers. Contrary to this, it is found that they were developed mostly because it was a compulsory item in the submission list. Through the results of the chi-square tests, grades of the students revealed an opposite trend that when decision trees are prepared after the design is completed, they received higher grades on average.


The descriptives and chi-square analysis carried out for EC and DT was an attempt to enhance our understanding of the design process of novice designers. Incorporating both EC and DT in the final project aimed to help freshman students guide their design processes. Yet, the results demonstrated a different perspective. Employment of EC in the design process, apart from its formal and creative capacity, proved to serve as a facilitator only when a spatial/areal division of labor was made. The results allow the conclusion that the incrementalist nature in EC (that designers must work one by one) is more suitable for physical separation of the product. In terms of use of DT, obeying a set of predetermined decisions in a design process is hard to carry on for novice designers. In such cases, rather than facilitating, decision trees turned out to be limiting the design capacity of the students and their problem-solving skills.


Many perspectives in design education require scientific methods for enhancing it. The analysis used in this paper provides scholarly information to other design educators in higher education. Initial aims to incorporate EC and DT in the final project were to help novice designers in guiding their design processes better. The research model of this study can help exemplify analytic research for design-related branches for future research studies.

Keywords: First-year design studio, quantitative analysis, architecture, basic design, exquisite corpse

Keywords: First-year design education, quantitative analysis, architecture education, basic design, exquisite corpse

Temel Tasarım Eğitiminde Grup Çalışmasını Yeniden Düşünmek: Exquisite Corpse ve Karar Ağacı Yaklaşımlarını Uyarlamanın Nicel Bir Analizi

Doğuş Üniversitesi, Sanat Ve Tasarım Fakültesi, Mimarlık Bölümü

Tasarım eğitiminde ve özellikle birinci sınıf tasarım stüdyolarında sanatsaldan analitiğe; soyuttan somuta uzanan farklı yaklaşımlar kullanılmıştır. Bu çalışma, sanat odaklı yaklaşımlardan biri olan 'Exquisite Corpse (EC)' adlı yaklaşımın, mimari eğitimin ilk yılındaki tasarım stüdyosunda kullanımını inceler. Bu çalışmada EC yaklaşımına ek olarak, öğrenciler arasında diyalog gerektiren ve eğitim ortamına daha fazla sistem kazandırarak problem çözme yeteneklerini geliştirmeye yardımcı olan karar ağacı (DT) yaklaşımı da kullanılmıştır. Tasarım araştırmalarında farklı metodoloji arayışları çerçevesinde, bu çalışmada tasarım sürecini analiz etmek için nicel yöntemler kullanılmıştır. Bu makalenin temel amacı, temel tasarım eğitiminde EC ve DT kullanımını değerlendirmek ve temel tasarım öğretim metodolojisinin geliştirilmesi için ampirik çıkarımlar sağlamaktır. Öğrencilerin “exquisite corpse” yaklaşımını kullanmaları ile notları arasındaki ilişkiyi incelemek için tanımlayıcı istatistikler ve Pearson'ın ki-kare bağımsızlık testi kullanılmıştır. Bu çalışma, tasarım araştırmasının bilimsel analizi için farklı yöntemlere duyulan ihtiyacı da vurgulamayı amaçlamaktadır.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Birinci sınıf tasarım eğitimi, nicel analiz, mimarlık eğitimi, temel tasarım, exquisite corpse

Corresponding Author: GÜLSÜN PELIN SARIOGLU ERDOGDU, Türkiye

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