The Design Approach and Activity-Led Learning
Two approaches to design and engineering pedagogy have been developed at Coventry University. They are the Design Approach which is being applied in the Industrial Design Department and Activity Led Learning which is being applied across several departments in the Faculty of Engineering and Computing. They have much in common, including the emphasis on communities of learners and the preparation for entry to professional practice through contact with real life projects. The Design Approach involves an emphasis on project based activity. At the core of being able to engage in designerly thinking, balancing creative and evaluative thinking is a dual processing match of linear and simultaneous processes as a conversation between these two modes of thought. For design students achieving this match involves confronting and travelling through a key threshold which we have labelled the ‘toleration of design uncertainty’. Activity-Led Learning is an approach to education based on providing stimulating activity that engages and enthuses students and creates challenge, relevance, integration, professional awareness and variety. An activity is a project, problem, scenario, case-study, enquiry, research question (or similar) in a class-room, in a laboratory, at work, or in any other educational context. Activities will often cross subject boundaries, as activities within professional practice do. Many of them involve design project work, particularly those for the faculty’s Architectural Design programme. In this area there are significant similarities to the Design Approach. The purpose of this paper will be to compare and contrast these approaches.