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10 weeks, 2019 Winter


Alisha Saxena, Kathleen Black

Laura Rubio, Wenting Zhu

DMGT 710-01   Prof. Mauricio Manhaes

Complex Adaptive System
Scientific Method
Graphic Design
Design Research


With the popularization and ripeness of the internet, the era of the great explosion of the information has already come.  As design students, we were interested in understanding how information is presented and interpreted in our everyday lives. Specifically, how one establishes ways to research information in an accurate and systematic way.

In this project, information evaluation is treated as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS) because it has various actors and factors and the dynamical context.  Although complex, they are organized and adaptable. Through understanding CAS, we are able

to understand what problems exist in the process of information evaluation.

We are trying to manipulate through our tool,                                 , in order to enhance the individual's capability to critically understand and unconsciously become competent towards reasoning information before believing or forwarding it.

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Responsibility of

Researcher & Graphic Designer

  • Planned, conducted, analyzed and reported design research, including practical research and scientific research.

  • Delivered actionable research findings to ideation on time and with quality.

  • Designed the layout of process book and the visual of the final product.


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         Redefined Focus Area        

After preliminary research, the team thinks that how people evaluate information, as a Complex Adaptive System, is more worthy to be research rather than information sources.



Primary researches like survey and follow-up interview are planned to understand how people evaluate information. We want to find factors that can influence information evaluation. Therefore, demographic is an important part of the survey, can provide more information about age, gender, educational background, and occupation. The interview is scheduled to be followed the survey so that we can get freshest data from the people which has critical thinking as soon as possible.

In order to guarantee the efficiency and get the unbiased data,  the team tests the survey and follow-up interview with eight SCAD students before delivering the 1st round primary research to the public. Based on the feedback, the team reorganizes the questions and make the research more understandable by participants. In the process of formal research, the team also makes an oversight that leads to the misinterpretation of data. Fortunately, the team timely detect it and design the 2nd round research.

         Articles for Research        

         Research Generation        

Raw Data: Round #1, Round #2


         Redefined Focus Area        

In primary research, the team figures out that no critical thinking is the major problem in CAS of information evaluation. The worst situation is that the people are recently seeking a degree or get in touch with academic in recent five years but evaluate information without critical thinking. In the next stage, we are interested in understanding the people who do not have critical thinking with a touch with academic recently



From our research, we established that most of the undergraduate students we interviewed at SCAD did not display critical thinking skills. Therefore, we refined our area of interest specifically to students at SCAD in order to instill critical thinking within them.

In order to remove bias, we set up criteria for critical and non-critical thinkers based on previous primary researches. Meanwhile, the team uses some more scientific methods, like IBM SPSS software, a statistic-analysis tool. This tool can give us more accurate instrumental data

Interview (21 participants)

With the permission of participants,  the team process a video record of the whole research aims to get the first unconsciously emotional reaction and make it easier for us to go back to the raw data.

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         Result & Analysis        

The team numbers the participant and measures them with criteria.

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The team inputs the data into IBM SPSS Software for exploring commonalities & differences between different participants. 

After looking at the data from the SPSS, we found that V23 had little correlation to the others.  

V23 showed strong critical thinking.

He was the only person we interviewed who mentioned that he needed more information to make a conclusion and provide an opinion on the statement we had asked.

Some other characteristics that V23 showed were he paused before initially answering and took time to understand the statement, he asked us questions about the statement we offered and showed no nervous laughter.

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         Flow Chart Development       

In the CAS of information evaluation, the non-critical is stage A and the critical is stage B. The team wants to develop a guideline which can bridge the gap between stage A and stage B.  Considering the target user is  SCAD students, we simplify the guideline into 4 steps, starting with S, CA, D.

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We went forward with the SCAD color theme from our ID’s and portions of the website. We tested the colors through some prototypes and got good feedback. Students liked working with a tool with this color theme.

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We went forward with both a sticker and foldable tool which list the steps we compiled from our research.

The foldable tool comes in two sizes, one 8”x8” and one 3”x3”. Both the sticker and foldable tool display our facebook page that students can go to for more information.

We created a Facebook page that provides more information and explanation about our project and the tool we created. The Facebook page allows us to have a digital space to explain and display our project.

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