Understanding the Processes Behind Student Designing: Cases from Singapore

Susan Siok Hiang Lim, Christina Lim-Ratnam, Matthew Atencio
2013, Vol. 18, No. 1,


A common perception of designing is that it represents a highly complex activity that is manageable by only a few. However it has also been argued that all individuals are innately capable of designing. Taking up this latter view, we explored the processes behind student designing in the context of Design and Technology (D&T), a subject taught at the Secondary school level in Singapore. We examined the design journey undertaken by two students to understand what designing is like at their level. Case study methodology was adopted to develop a rich data set emerging from the students’ design journals, maps of the students’ design process, and interviews with the students and supervising teachers. The findings revealed that these students had innate capacities to design. Although the approach taken by each student differed, as reflected in visual representations reflecting the design process as well as their commentary, each displayed similar forms of design thinking. That is, both students proposed a novel and innovative solution to their design problem and were able to articulate sound reasoning of their design decisions throughout the entire design process. The supervising teachers enacted a more facilitative pedagogy that supported each student’s design process; this approach differs from traditional pedagogical practices in Singaporean D&T that can be characterised as model-focused and ‘top down’ in nature.


design and technology; student designing; design process; teacher facilitation; designerly thinking; design mode

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