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15.05.2019

Conceptions of design by transdisciplinary educators: disciplinary background and pedagogical engagement

Zeitschrift:
International Journal of Technology and Design Education
Autoren:
Marisa E. Exter, Colin M. Gray, Todd M. Fernandez
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Abstract

In this study, we describe similarities and differences in how faculty members from across disciplinary backgrounds conceptualize design. The study is situated in an innovative transdisciplinary undergraduate degree program centered on a studio-based learning experience co-taught by multi-disciplinary faculty. While faculty celebrated the opportunity to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives, they showed a lack of awareness about differences in how they conceptualized design and design pedagogy, especially early on. In-depth interviews and sketches of eight faculty members provided insights on alignment around core concepts of design, design process, and design instruction. Common themes in design definitions included creation of something new, human-centered design, and focus on problem framing over solution development. There was disagreement on the relationship between design and other ways of knowing, such as problem solving and scientific reasoning. Most used process models incorporating non-linearity, iteration, prototyping, and balance between research and design ideation. While there were many similarities in teaching approach, the rationale given for decisions varied, highlighting underlying differences in how participants thought about teaching design. Instructional alignment is an important consideration in designing a transdisciplinary learning experience, but may be hard to achieve due to cultural and institutional disciplinary boundaries. Collaborative teaching efforts benefit when faculty engage in self-reflection, discussion, and engagement in meaningful synthesis work related to understanding what design is and how it can be taught. Such work will enable a team to create purposeful learning experiences which leverages the benefits of exposure to a range of design problems, contexts, users, and design “flavors.”

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