DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: van Turnhout, Koen; Köppe, Christian; Peter, Schuszler; René, Bakker
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: HAN University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands, The; 2: Utrecht University, Netherlands, The
Section: New Paradigms 1
DOI number:
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


In this exploratory paper we examine how metaphors for design and engineering research are perceived at first, and subsequently loaded with meaning throughout design and engineering education. The use of metaphors can be a powerful didactic tool, as metaphors can act as gateways, activating students’ intuitions and existing knowledge, preparing the mental ground for newly acquired knowledge. However, if metaphors are studied at all, as a didactic device, it is usually at their first introduction and not along a longer period of time as a collector of growing insights throughout an educational programme. In this study we examined how students benefited from metaphors for design and engineering research, that were considered ‘intuitive’ at first, throughout a longer period of time. Our main findings are that, first, initial intuitiveness is a fair predictor of the ability to give meaning to concepts later on. Second that new narratives quickly overturn existing ones’ depending how strong connotations with the metaphor are. Third that ‘bridging associations’ are central in building persisting new meanings upon existing metaphors. We conclude that if these effects are taken into account, a fair assessment of the long term tenacity of certain metaphors as carriers of meanings can be made quite quickly.

Keywords: Design education, Metaphors, Sensemaking, DOT-Framework


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