A significant amount of recent research in design studies has focused on the development of tools and notations intended to support various design activities by capturing the chain of reasoning behind particular design decisions. However, in order to be considered useful it seems clear that such methods should not only be able to provide an accurate description of the design process, but must also leave the nature of that process largely unaffected. This paper presents empirical findings which challenge both of these assumptions. Experimental work is presented which suggests that concurrent verbal descriptions of a design activity may not map well onto the behaviour that such descriptions are intended to characterize. Secondly, the findings presented here suggest that having to describe the design activity may affect the design process itself. This paper suggests that design descriptions are not only mediated by cognitive limitations but also grounded in the conventions of practice surrounding design activities. © 1995.
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