The Challenge of the Development of Complexity Approach Skills in Design Education. A Study with Design Students
Authors: Manuela Maia
Abstract: Based on a set of questions about the conditions of design education to complexity approach in the 21st century, proposed for reflection by a previous exploratory study, we sought to deepen this problem with another study involving a greater number of design students. Our aim is a contribution to the expansion of the reflection on the designers' capacity to respond to the complexity of reality, allowing the approach to other dimensions of the problem. We search for a more precise understanding about specific learning needs of the students. Simultaneously, we intended to contribute to a more detailed understanding of the teaching-learning environment conditions that must be answered. Keeping the theoretical framework of the exploratory study, built from an important series of recent contributions on the subject, we research through a qualitative study to understand the behavior of students from different design specialties. The students were exposed to a real problem of a real organization previously known. The study was fully carried out in the students' teaching-learning environment. We defined as focus of our analysis the students’ knowledge needed for the translation of the objectives of the organization for accurately defining the problem and for the configuration of this particular design situation. The data revealed the students chose to describe possibilities for the solution, avoiding the constraints, as it was revealed by the exploratory study. We found that given the difficulty in defining the problem students focused on solutions, resorting to creativity and invention to solve the challenge. We conclude that the learning environment must be more dominated by collaboration between system different actors, with greater articulation with diverse knowledge areas. The students’ needs must activate ways for exploring the unknown, in an environment that equips them with effective tools to support learning, in addition to their motivation and commitment. The identification of concrete dimensions for framing the configuration of support tools for design education for complexity approach has already an important territory of contributions, with resources and experimented proposals for action. Powerful design learning support tools for understanding real problems in design education, must be above all useful for the inquiry base for creativity and able to be mastered by designers. With an entrepreneur attitude for the global challenges we face, these tools must allow design students to learn about possibilities for innovative solutions.
Keywords: Design education, Complexity approach, Teaching and learning support tools, Creativity
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