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Framing an integrated framework of design curriculum in higher education: understandings, meanings and interpretations

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This article aims to explore an alternative framework of design curriculum among the diverse and fragmented interpretations of design education, contributing to rethinking future design education in higher education. Data were collected from thirteen individual and group interviews with fifteen informants, and a series of investigations into the academic performance of a Hong Kong university's design department. The qualitative study of the data identified embedded understandings and interpretations of design education expressed by the design experts, faculty members and local designers. Grounded theory analysis unveiled the experts' recommendations to the university senior management that design was not art in its own right but supported industrial transformation. Paradoxically, the designers aimed for art to be the foundation of design practices for economic development, while the faculty members faced a tension between art-based and industry-based design practices at all levels that reflect the nature of design. These diverse interpretations were subject to several cycles of comparison and abstraction. The findings shape the alternative vision of design education in the interplay between design artefacts and the human-made world, which integrates design-making, design planning and design thinking in a coherent framework of study. The implications are that the fragmented interpretations are neither mutually exclusive nor antagonistic in the further development of design education.
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Keywords: coherent design curriculum; design discourse; design education; design knowledge; fragmented meanings of design; grounded theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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