Disaffected/Difficult Students Within Design Education: Some Possible Considerations

H. G. Denton
1986, Vol. 18, No. 2,


All teachers have to handle 'difficult' students as a normal part of their teaching load. Two general approaches tend to be adopted in schools: the establishment of withdrawal groups or absorption within mixed ability groups. Whichever technique is used the problems caused by these students are out of all proportion to their numbers and are a major source of both stress for staff and reduced contact with other students, the net effect is to lower the quality of the learning experience. The focus of this article is on the withdrawal technique, though some points will be of interest within mixed ability.

The term 'difficult' students does, of course, cover a wide range of specific difficulties and forms of behaviour and many inexperienced teachers make the mistake of attempting to work with them in a similar manner. Having said this and so emphasised the need for consideration of these students as individuals, there are a number of strategies which are worth careful consideration when teaching such students. The factors discussed below are based both upon my own experience conducting research in design departments and those of other practitioners in the field. In dealing with those factors I feel to be most relevant I have identified four broad areas:

1. The identification of students requiring particular help, and selection, if a withdrawal system is to operate.

2. Facilities needed when operating in a design faculty.

3. Relationships.

4. Work schemes and resources.

Full Text: PDF