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Design Methods of LCD

I really have no idea of the kinds of methods that one would use to design learner-centered software, short of iterative development. That's a strong statement, but I really mean it.
Let me give an example from the group CSCL talk that I'm giving next Saturday. In that paper we say:

Students need guidance: It's a simple, almost obvious lesson that students need guidance, but it becomes complicated as one realizes the levels at which guidance is needed. For example, we have found that students can come up with ideas for design problems, and they can do research. However, they do not naturally do their research on the ideas for their design problems – those connections are often missing. We have found it very useful to suggest connections to students, to point out what it is useful to reflect upon and why, and to provide a space for that reflection.

On the one hand, we didn't say anything shocking there. But on the other hand, how could we have possibly known that students would do research that has nothing to do with their design, without trying it and observing? Is there anyway that we might have predicted "Oh, they're not going to know about how to do this part of the task. We'll have to provide guidance here."? Are there UCD methods that would work for this? – Mark Guzdial 12/5/97