Starting a Design Course a with Bang: 'Warming Up' a New Group and Ensuring Key Principles are Internalized at the Start of an Undergraduate Programme

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This paper describes and analyzes a learning activity conducted on the first day of an undergraduate programme in industrial design. The exercise is intended to induct students and to bring to the fore a number of key messages at a time when students tend to be overwhelmed with their new experience as undergraduates. The activity was evaluated via direct observation by staff, student feedback at the debrief, a questionnaire on individual student responses to a number of issues in relation to their perceived value and difficulty, and peer evaluation of outcomes using criteria identified by the student group.

The activity is analyzed to establish the principles used to overcome other distractions and ensure key messages are internalized by students. The principles centre on novelty effects and use simulation, group working, an outdoor context away from the university and a whole working day rather than more conventional timetable structures. Staff are able to base immediate post-activity group discussion on the shared experience and so focus on the key messages: the nature of design activity, group-based design, modelling as a concept, decision-making, giving presentations, self-evaluation and assessment.

The paper, whilst descriptive of one event only, has relevance to colleagues involved with teaching on design-based courses.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1998, The Design Journal is an international, refereed journal covering all aspects of design. The journal welcomes articles on design in both cultural and commercial contexts. The journal is published four times a year and provides a forum for design scholars, professionals, educators, and managers worldwide. It publishes thought-provoking work that will have a direct impact on design knowledge and that challenges assumptions and methods, while being open-minded about the evolving role of design.
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