Scaffolding practices: A study of design practitioner engagement in design education

Janet McDonnell
2016 Design Studies  
The paper presents a study of tutor-student design reviews that form part of formal Industrial Design education. It is motivated by interests in how design expertise is acquired through experiences of designing and how novice designers are assisted to develop their own positions as designers. It explores the ways a professional designer tutor directs, guides and encourages students' engagement with a design task, and presents them with opportunities to develop their own design values,
more » ... s, and design sensibilities. It uses the empirical data to draw attention to how the potential of design proposals as rhetorical instruments to serve both designers 'own thinking and the presentation of their designs to others is a prominent theme in the professional designer tutor's engagement. Abstract: The paper presents a study of tutor-student design reviews that form part of formal Industrial Design education. It is motivated by interests in how design expertise is acquired through experiences of designing and how novice designers are assisted to develop their own positions as designers. It explores the ways a professional designer tutor directs, guides and encourages students' engagement with a design task, and presents them with opportunities to develop their own design values, preferences, and design sensibilities. It uses the empirical data to draw attention to how the potential of design proposals as rhetorical instruments to serve both designers 'own thinking and the presentation of their designs to others is a prominent theme in the professional designer tutor's engagement. Professional designers have to contend with the complex and unpredictable problems of practice. Although design professions are not unique in this respect, designers' practices, the strategies they learn, and the ways in which they acquire competence are fundamentally influenced by the nature of design tasks. In essence, 'any design process can unfold in an infinite number of directions ... first judgments in conjunction with a systematic assessment of the design situation codetermine the stance of the designer in relationship to that which is being designed' (Nelson & Stolterman, 2012: p.245). The central role of judgment not only positions the designer as the one who shapes the design through the way s/he frames the task, but also implies a necessary awareness that choices have been made and that they have consequences. These relations between designers, designs, and design justification, in turn, have consequences for how design skills are acquired. In the context designer formation, Donald Schön's 'Educating the Reflective Practitioner' (1987) presents extensive explication of the case for why experiences of designing, through the 'studio', or through project work, are deemed critical to formal design education. The characteristics of experiences that offer the potential for becoming more skilled at designing, and how one might assess their presence and precise contributions, continue to engage
doi:10.1016/j.destud.2015.12.006 fatcat:k5wp3sfc4jegpgybothyek6aq4