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Cognitive Tools Shape Thought: Diagrams in Design

Cognitive Processing, Volume 14, Issue 3 (2013), pp. 255-272

Howe School Research Paper No. 2013–7

50 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2013 Last revised: 13 Jul 2013

Jeffrey V. Nickerson

Stevens Institute of Technology - School of Business

James E. Corter

Columbia University - Teachers' College

Barbara Tversky

Columbia University - Teachers' College

Yun-Jin Rho

Pearson Education

Doris Zahner

Council for Aid to Education (CAE)

Lixiu Lisa Yu

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: January 25, 2013

Abstract

Thinking often entails interacting with cognitive tools. In many cases, notably design, the predominant tool is the page. The page allows externalizing, organizing, and reorganizing thought. Yet, the page has its own properties that by expressing thought affect it: path, proximity, place, permanence. The effects of these properties were evident in designs of information systems created by students Paths were interpreted as routes through components. Proximity was used to group subsystems. Horizontal position on the page was used to express temporal sequence and vertical position to reflect real-world spatial position. The permanence of designs on the page guided but also constrained generation of alternative designs. Cognitive tools both reflect and affect thought.

Keywords: Diagrammatic reasoning, design, creativity, cognitive tool, affordance, spatial thinking, information systems design

Suggested Citation

Nickerson, Jeffrey V. and Corter, James E. and Tversky, Barbara and Rho, Yun-Jin and Zahner, Doris and Yu, Lixiu Lisa, Cognitive Tools Shape Thought: Diagrams in Design (January 25, 2013). Cognitive Processing, Volume 14, Issue 3 (2013), pp. 255-272; Howe School Research Paper No. 2013–7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2207152

Jeffrey V. Nickerson (Contact Author)

Stevens Institute of Technology - School of Business ( email )

Hoboken, NJ 07030
United States

James E. Corter

Columbia University - Teachers' College ( email )

525 W. 120th St.
New York, NY 10027
United States

Barbara Tversky

Columbia University - Teachers' College ( email )

525 W. 120th St.
New York, NY 10027
United States

Yun-Jin Rho

Pearson Education ( email )

United States

Doris Zahner

Council for Aid to Education (CAE) ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Lixiu Yu

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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