DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Smits, Aletta; Van Turnhout, Koen
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Hogeschool Utrecht, Netherlands
Section: Design and engineering as agents of regeneration and transformation
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.15
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Design education has a nuanced relationship with examples. Although they are considered useful teaching tools, their use is often restricted to illustrating the design theories and principles around which the curriculum is structured. In contrast, professional designers view examples as autonomous entities and use them to initiate a critical dialogue with their current problem space. Therefore, students must cultivate their own repertoire of solutions and learn to initiate conversations between existing solutions and design challenges, to gain a better understanding of the problem space and to generate new designs. Design curricula should accommodate those processes. This paper outlines an experiment conducted with master’s students in Applied Data Science at Utrecht University, who took a course focused on designing recommender system interfaces. The students were provided with a set of solutions of recommender interface designs as their main instruction tool. They could use this set to curate their own solution repertoire, resulting from their critical conversations between the potential solutions and their design challenges. As a result, overall, participants' work displayed more diverse designs, and they used designs patterns more flexibly. Based on this case study, we tentatively conclude that a design curriculum built around examples, complemented by theories, is advantageous, as long as special attention is given to helping students initiate fruitful iterations between their challenges and a set of solutions

Keywords: solution repertoire, interface design, design strategies, precedents, case study


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