Impact of a change of environment on autonomy and design exploration

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: Loudon, Gareth Hugh; Gill, Steve; Wilgeroth, Paul
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
Section: Learning Spaces
Page(s): 868-873
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


This research explored how a change of physical and social environment might affect a product design student’s ability to learn new design skills and to explore new design ideas. To do this, we took a group of product design students away to the remote island of Tiree in the Hebrides of Scotland for a 6-day trip as part of the Tiree Tech Wave – ‘A hands-on making and meeting event exploring the edges of technology’. We then compared the findings to theories about how environments can affect creativity, including design exploration. Overall the research trip highlighted that the relaxed and inspiring atmosphere created by the physical and social environment, together with the freedom and autonomy given to the students, resulted in students being extremely productive while there. However it also highlighted that this did not necessarily result in more design exploration. This was partially due to the constraints on the resources available but also because of freedom given to the students.

Keywords: Design exploration, creativity, learning environments, autonomy, learning, curriculum, education


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