Acknowledging and Developing a Design and Creative Ability of Students within the Various Social Settings of Irish Second Level Education System

By Keelin Leahy and William Gaughran.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The autonomy and ability to demonstrate ones inner thoughts and opinions is a necessity for the development and cultivation of design activity. This study confirms that both second level teachers and students have highlighted a need for a pedagogical approach to design education within Technology education, which promotes ‘designerly ways of thinking’ and aims to overcome the obstacle of delivering a subject where much of the learning cannot be verbalised. If the learning cannot be verbalised an ambiguity exists in terms of what to teach which is adding to the issue of how to teach or develop design and creativity. The dominant pedagogy in schools at presents is based on “what to think” rather than “how to think” thus design ability and creativity are not being nurtured.
From discovering the current pedagogical approaches to design education within second level education and the PLS of students within Technology education a strategic approach to education and training has been devised to cater for the diverse needs of students for a range of school types. The strategy, still undergoing testing and analysis, consists of a web strategy resource, which provides the framework for vital material content and approaches deemed necessary for design activity which was underpinned by the preferred, active and visual, learning styles of students in Technology education. This active-visual approach attempts to overcome the present issue of design being implemented in a predominantly verbal setting, a key impediment for cognitive right-mode creative activities. The purpose of the web strategy is to give design ‘grounding’ or permanence within the second level education social setting and develop background information, while also increasing the user’s design ability and creativity.
The methodology for the strategy implementation focused on the four main school social settings; secondary, vocational, comprehensive and community, in the Irish second level school system. A comparative analysis occurred to determine the differences between each social setting in relation to design activity and the necessary skills for design activity. From the findings of this study a strategic approach to design activity is urgently required within the Irish second level education setting in terms of the principles, practices and processes of design activity. Furthermore, a diverse approach is needed to cater for the broad social settings and subject areas of Technology education to ensure the student obtains a holistic education for design activity. The aim of this paper is to report the effects of students’ creative abilities, by implementing a strategic approach to design activities and training within the various Irish second level education settings with emphasis on student’s preferential learning styles.

Keywords: Design Activity, Process, Product, Preferential Learning Styles, School Types, Strategic Approach

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.43-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.307MB).

Keelin Leahy

Teaching Assistant and PhD Researcher, Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Keelin Leahy is completing her PhD research on A Strategic Approach to Design Pedagogics, in the Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering in the University of Limerick. In 2005 she graduated with a first class honours Bachelor of Technology, in Materials and Construction Technology, concurrent with Teacher Education at the University of Limerick, Ireland. On Graduating she won the Advanced Scholar Award. She was also awarded the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET) scholarship for talented researchers, which provides funding for the duration of her PhD. She assists in the teaching of design strategies and design communication, and has guest lectured in engineering design graphics, and design intervention strategies at the University of Limerick.

Dr. William Gaughran

Senior Lecturer, Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Dr. Bill Gaughran is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Manufacturing and Operations Engineering at the University of Limerick. He leads a number of research groups, including engineering and design education, and sustainable design and engineering, which includes sustainability strategies in schools and colleges. He is a research partner with the EU INTERREG IIIC/DQE project (Towards a Sustainable Region), and contributes to developing strategies, which inform environmental sustainability policy in EU states. He has developed educational intervention modules for SMEs as well as for engineering and design undergraduates for Interregional EU application. He lectures in design for sustainability, as well as design and communication graphics, across a number of courses in UL. He has published widely in the area of cognitive ergonomics, and has been to the forefront in research concerning the development and impact of visualisation skills on design and engineering performance. He holds a PhD in Design and Ergonomics from Brunel University in the UK.

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