The design risks framework: Understanding metacognition for iteration

Spencer E. Carlson*, Daniel G. Rees Lewis, Leesha V. Maliakal, Elizabeth M. Gerber, Matthew W. Easterday

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Iteration is an important design process that novice designers struggle to follow. However, iteration is difficult to coach because we do not understand the underlying metacognitive knowledge required for effective iteration. We developed the Design Risks Framework, which helps researchers to identify the knowledge underlying three metacognitive processes that control iteration: focusing attention on key areas of the project, identifying project risks, and choosing iterative strategies to mitigate risks. We tested the framework over a 6-week period with 5 novice design teams and found that novices seemed to lack metacognitive knowledge of 49 criteria for identifying project risks. By using this framework to diagnose knowledge gaps and design coaching interventions, educators and managers can improve how novice designers iterate in design projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100961
JournalDesign Studies
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • design cognition
  • design knowledge
  • design metacognition
  • design process
  • reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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