Welcome to ADI

The Advanced Design Institute (ADi) works to facilitate a deeper and broader understanding of design as activity and culture. Design activity is the way individuals and organizations continuously create our world. Design culture provides the societal context that supports design activity. In a time of dramatic change and of increased complexity, design culture is more timely and crucial than ever. The purpose of ADi is to advance design culture through public education.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

schema for improving design education



 Reviewing Don Norman’s most recent blog on design thinking on Core 77’s site, I was drawn to an earlier post by Norman on the need for design education to change. I agree that design education needs to change but for other reasons than posted in Norman’s piece. I don’t think design should be scientized or that designers need to become design scientists. I believe that good science is important to the work of designers and that designers need to work with competent scientists, and know how to recognize good science when they see it. It is ideal to have good scientists focused on researching design related issues. For example, sociologists and anthropologists can contribute descriptions and explanations of human behavior to the processes of design inquiry and action, thus assuring better outcomes in the end.

Design is not just a form of science anymore than it is just a form of art. It is disciplined and rational but it has its own fundamental postulates which include, but are not limited to, those underlying science. Design education therefore needs to be changed to reflect these fundamentals. Design education takes place in informal as well as formal settings. Norman’s challenge in his post focuses on the shortcomings of formal design education. I believe he sees so much bad science from design students and practitioners because of undergraduate and graduate program designs. These academic educational designs—intended for the education of scientists—are unfortunately adopted by evolving design programs.

Following Norman’s advice to make designers better by making them better scientists would not improve design education nor design practice. As Russell Ackoff said in reference to the need to change the systems movement, “the righter you do the wrong thing, the wronger you get” , which is apropos to redesigning design education.

An example of a design education schema—reflecting the hierarchy of significance associated with design learning outcomes—shows that learning outcomes based on scientific inquiry are positioned at the first order of learning outcomes, while practice based education tops out at the third order of learning outcomes(too often skipping the second level).



hierarchy of significance of design learning outcomes

Improving design education in response to this hierarchy of learning outcomes would require that design students be assisted in learning how to create design schema—the fourth order—and to engage in a life-long learning quest to understand the nature of ‘purpose’ in design—the fifth order—and ‘direction’ in design—the sixth order. The priority in changing design education should be to focus on developing competencies used in schema development and use. Without that competency in place the fifth and sixth orders would remain out of reach as learning outcomes in design education.

This is just one schema reflecting the unique nature of design and thus the unique challenge of design education. There are many others waiting to be developed and applied.

2 comments:

  1. Truly insightful article on a high level framework for Design Education that clearly states that the period spent within a school can only be a foundation of sorts and the learning would then continue all through ones life if the school is any good and the individual would journey on to fine tune his/her intended destination and the directions that would steer their progress, all autonomously and also provide leadership to others in their wake, how wonderful indeed.

    ReplyDelete