Bridging Science and Practice via a Science of the Artificial

Interesting article,

Bridging Practice and Theory: A Design Science Approach by Jan Holmstrom, Mikko Ketokivi, & Ari-Pekka Hameri (Decision Sciences, 40 (1), 65-87.)

It’s really less about bridging theory and practice than it is about developing a science of the artificial a la Herb Simon.  My take on the topic – focus less on discovering the world (predicting) and more or creating the world by making artifacts the central focus or unit of analysis of research.  Make problem framing leading to artifact fabrication a part of research.  You can think of this as a science of practice.  Think less of theories about how the mind works than of artifacts to improve practice.  Theories are still important, for instance, you can’t judge practice validity without theory; but think of artifacts as a bridge between theory and practice.  Hmm, maybe it is about bridging.

But it’s also about engineering.  Think about the prevalence of artifacts (broadly speaking) in our world, and the way that artifact can shape cognition and behavior, other disciplines beging to share concerns ussually associated with engineering.  Education likely has more in common with engineering than it does with traditional psychology.

A side bar here about validity.  Research, including a Science of the Artificial, is about answering questions.  The methodology you choose must match the research question.  In this conception of research you will likely ask a series of different questions, some of which will only become apparent as you go through a process.  You still have to change your methodology as your questions require.  This make bias more possible, indeed bias and objectivity plays slightly different roles in this artificial science when you’re purposely creating rather than discovering.