Teaching design theory: scaffolding for experiential learning

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Hiort af Ornäs, Viktor (1); Keitsch, Martina (2)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden; 2: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Section: Learning
Page(s): 724-729
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


A future in ever changing professions requires design students to become competent in engaging with different types of knowledge. This article argues that teaching students the ability to reflect on their own approaches opens up for combining design theory and practice for the greater benefit of both. Yet, there are challenges in promoting such a ‘mixed approach’ in design education. In a prior paper, the authors took Kolb’s experiential learning model as a starting point for a post hoc comparison and evaluation of teaching design theory. The present paper describes the proactive application of this model in redesigning a course, given at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology spring term 2013. The course provides Concrete Experience through in situ-observations interviews, etc. Students are then requested to transform these into the generic requirements of a design brief (Reflective Observation), further interpret the brief in the light of theories (Abstract Conceptualisation), and finally convert findings into new design concepts (Active Experimentation). The paper discusses how learning models can be used proactively in design education, through three perspectives on learning: as Didactic staging-, Process driven-, and Reflexive independence.

Keywords: Experiential learning, design theory, double loop learning, reflection, values, learning styles, teaching, learning


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