Mastering Information Gathering and Absorption Techniques

Information Gathering and Absorption Skills Business Skills

A business website can be simple with just general information about your company or it can be a full e-commerce platform. Regardless of the function it must provide an attractive design, be easy to navigate and include all the information consumers need about your products or services.

Increasingly, mastering engineers are having to deal with automated software services that claim to be able to take raw mixes and produce polished output without any human intervention. This is disruptive technology.

Optimizing the Absorption of New Information

The effective absorption of information is vital for learning success. Without it, people may feel overwhelmed and less productive. However, absorbing information can be challenging for people with disabilities. The good news is that there are strategies they can use to improve their information gathering and absorption skills. These techniques can help them overcome barriers to learning and increase their productivity.

While previous studies have documented how student designers gather information in controlled settings involving research-based, simulated design tasks, little is known about how students engage in similar information gathering activities in real- world engineering design projects. To address this gap, we analyzed the transcripts from six student information gathering meetings with stakeholders or domain experts during their curricular capstone project experience. Inductive coding of these meeting transcripts was conducted by two researchers to identify unique interactions between student teams and their information sources. These initial identified interaction codes were then grouped into categories that reflect recommended best practices for conducting information gathering meetings with stakeholders and domain experts (Hess and Fila 2016; Mohedas et al. in press).

These categories include exploratory information gathering behaviors and collaborative information gathering behaviors. The former encompassed ways in which students tried to solicit deep information from stakeholders or domain experts and explore differences between perspectives. The latter encompassed ways in which students tried to facilitate stakeholder or domain expert design participation. Both groups of information gathering behaviors could potentially be improved by incorporating recommendations for best practice into design pedagogy and instruction.

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The in-depth descriptions presented in this study highlight approaches to gathering information that students may already be implementing effectively, as well as gaps in their approaches that future pedagogy should seek to address. We recommend that student design instructors consider utilizing this list as a tool for facilitating students’ reflective reflection on their own current information gathering processes, identifying areas in which they can further optimize their information gathering, and considering ways to implement these new strategies into their real-world design work.

Balancing Quantity and Quality in Information Gathering

While quantity is vital for reaching a large audience, it’s equally important to deliver quality in the form of high-value content. This requires balancing both the number of pieces of information and the way those pieces are arranged.

The first step is determining what kind of content your audience wants. Are they looking for bite-sized tips and tricks or comprehensive guides? The answer will help you decide how often to post and what length your content should be.

Another consideration is the level of knowledge your audience needs. For example, highly motivated salespeople may be interested in bite-sized tips and tricks to improve their negotiating skills but would prefer comprehensive guides that offer everything they need at once.

While our study did not measure the impact of these differences, the in-depth descriptions of student behaviors provided some indications of expected impacts. For example, the collaborative information gathering behaviors that were more similar to recommended best practices could help students elicit “unknown knowns” from stakeholders and domain experts. Unknown knowns are relevant information that stakeholders or domain experts possess but may not immediately articulate; this can be due to a variety of factors, including linguistic barriers and social norms (Sutcliffe and Sawyer 2013).

Our findings also suggest that student designers might benefit from instruction on conducting effective information gathering meetings with stakeholders and domain experts. The composite nature of these meetings exhibited in our study suggests that they might include both exploratory and collaborative aspects, such as those described by IDEO (2015) and Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser (2009). Moreover, the list of 22 information gathering behaviors identified in our study that were less similar to recommended best practices could be helpful for design instructors to develop targeted pedagogy related to helping students conduct such meetings.

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Transforming Information into Knowledge and Insight

The human mind is designed to absorb information and convert it into knowledge. It is this knowledge that allows us to make decisions and take action in our daily lives. The process of transforming information into knowledge begins when a person identifies the relationship between different pieces of data. This is accomplished through the use of a taxonomy. A taxonomy is an organized list of categories and a set of relationships that connect these categories together.

In our study, we analyzed student teams’ structural information gathering meetings by conducting three researcher interviews with each team (Figure 1). These interviews focused on how each team gathered relevant information from their stakeholders or domain experts. The interviews were transcribed and inductively coded by two researchers. These codes were then paired to form the 11 pairings of behaviors that reflected differences in student information gathering approaches. Our findings suggest that facilitating the sharing of student information gathering approaches could be a valuable addition to design instruction.

Structural information gathering behaviors mainly included practices for meeting organization and basic clarification, whereas exploratory and collaborative behaviors were more likely to help students discover unknown knowns by diving deep into stakeholder perspectives or design use contexts (IDEO 2015; Kouprie and Sleeswijk Visser 2009). Collaborative and exploratory information gathering practices also helped students develop solutions that were based on their collective knowledge of the design problem and its related constraints.

However, it is important to note that the satisfaction of information needs did not guarantee successful absorption. It is possible that other factors – such as the time it takes to satisfy an information need, the way in which an individual prioritizes their needs or their personal life situation – could impact the likelihood of satisfying their information needs.

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