Bombs Away: Visual thinking and students’ engagement in design studios contexts

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Marianella Chamorro-Koc Andrew Scott Gretchen Coombs


In design studio, sketching or visual thinking is part of
processes that assist students to achieve final design
solutions. At QUT’s First and Third Year industrial design
studio classes we engage in a variety of teaching
pedagogies from which we identify ‘Concept Bombs’ as
instrumental in the development of students’ visual
thinking and reflective design process, and also as a
vehicle to foster positive student engagement. In First year
studios our Concept Bombs’ consist of 20 minute
individual design tasks focusing on rapid development of
initial concept designs and free-hand sketching. In Third
Year studios we adopt a variety of formats and different
timing, combining individual and team based tasks. Our
experience and surveys tell us that students value
intensive studio activities especially when combined with
timely assessment and feedback. While conventional
longer-duration design projects are essential for allowing
students to engage with the full depth and complexity of
the design process, short and intensive design activities
introduce variety to the learning experience and enhance
student engagement. This paper presents a comparative
analysis of First and Third Year students’ Concept Bomb
sketches to describe the types of design knowledge
embedded in them, a discussion of limitations and
opportunities of this pedagogical technique, as well as
considerations for future development of studio based
tasks of this kind as design pedagogies in the midst of
current university education trends.

Article Details

How to Cite
CHAMORRO-KOC, Marianella; SCOTT, Andrew; COOMBS, Gretchen. Bombs Away: Visual thinking and students’ engagement in design studios contexts. Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, [S.l.], v. 20, n. 1, feb. 2015. ISSN 1360-1431. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 28 jan. 2023.
visual thinking, design sketches, design studio, student engagement, thematic coding of visuals, industrial design