Adaptations of Concept Mapping for Technical System Design
Dr. John Krupczak, Hope College
Development of new products is a challenging task which generally must contend with rapidly changing technological state-of-the-art, imprecise knowledge of consumer preferences, and multidisciplinary teams often situated in different geographical locations. Equally challenging is finding effective methods to communicate central features of technological systems to a diverse audience of participants with limited background knowledge. Methods of assessing team comprehension are needed that extend beyond superficial questions that but do not require extensive prerequisite engineering knowledge. Communication or explanation of how technical systems work requires a method that can represent a diverse range of technological products but that non-engineers can learn in a limited amount of time. The technique of concept mapping has been adapted to this purpose. Concept mapping provides a visual method of demonstrating the relationships that exist between the component parts of a larger body of information. Such a feature is well-suited for explaining technical systems. In one application concept mapping is combined with aspects of the engineering design technique of functional analysis or functional decomposition to create a method that can be used to describe or explain the central elements of system design across a broad spectrum of technological domains.
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