Felicities and Fallacies of Teaching Design Theory: A Comparative Study
Paper i proceeding, 2012

The scope of design has changed significantly in the last decades - from a focus on material aspects to the intangible, from functionality to pleasure, and from making products to providing services and experiences. Even if being aware of changes, design curricula rarely reflect theoretical challenges and opportunities connected with these issues. Design educators do not only struggle with the complexity and the metafix feature of their discipline but also with the fact that its basic conjectures are seldom made explicit, which in turn impedes possibilities for teaching design theory to students. The paper discusses the question of how to facilitate the understanding of design theory introductions by comparing two curricula. The objective of these is to provide design students with the ability to understand and implement design theory in their practice. Following the introduction, which positions the paper in a specific learning context, the second section describes course requirements, tools and methods applied in two teaching approaches. Based on a comparison of the two courses the third section points out barriers and opportunities, such as a contextualization of theory teaching within more applied activities in design education, and discusses ways of enabling different types of learning related to design theory.

methods for teaching

Design theory in education

learning methodologies at different stages of design curricula

students’ maturity and progress

values of design methods


Viktor Hjort af Ornäs

Martina Keitsch

Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen (eds.) Proceedings of E&PDE 2012, the 14th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Antverp, Belgium, September 6-7 2012



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