Signature Pedagogy

Post Grad Supervision in Learning and Teaching

The Signature Pedagogy of Design: Intersections with student experience and learner centered design education.


Within higher education institutions, especially large universities like RMIT, a significant and persistent gap often exists in how learning and teaching is expected (by leadership) to occur and how it is practiced (by academic staff). Administrative areas of a university will typically expect that pedagogical practices in the classroom are progressive, e.g. learner-centred, and informed by contemporary research in L&T. Learning and teaching staff are charged with supporting teachers to change and adopt new ways of teaching that accord with contemporary literature in pedagogy. Answering this call for reform, to address the gap, requires agility, and thus RESEARCH, in how teaching is imagined in a discipline, and how teaching is enacted in the classroom by individual teachers. (REF Lit #1, & #4 are publication outcomes of research projects, led by UAL and Coventry)

The academic staff within Industrial Design has been particularly proactive in undertaking many initiatives over the past decade and a half focussed upon a specific form of Pedagogy – that of Learner Centered Education or Pedagogy. This work, this team of people, has been the recipient of grants, and awards validating the progressive nature of how the teaching staff is contributing to Design Pedagogy discourse.

Design education is deeply teacher centered, and also authoritarian (Davis) in the way assessment is conducted. The social nature of the studio model hides the deep-rooted project of enculturation (Davis again), while appearing to be privileging the learner. Learners in design education rarely define the structure and theme of the studio, and criteria of assessment, much less conduct the assessment. Yet outside of (industrial) design progressive values are actively allowed play and have led to the development of unique student enacted practices.

Aspirations for change – focussed upon METHOD, i.e. PEDAGOGY – exist within senior leadership and within teaching staff. The actions (visions translated into new ways and new built environments) of senior leadership in the university constitute a very particular discourse – of reimaging the university as a future proofed, or future-anticipatory, progressive and resilient enterprise. This constitutes one significant research program (1). While another research program (2) is the fact of reimaging of the agency of the student, a recurring theme in contemporary L&T literature, and echoed within the discourses of alternative forms of university.

  • Field of Research: Design Pedagogy
  • Mode of Research: By Practice (By Project)
  • Key Methods: Ethnography, Action Research, Reflective Practice, Industry Embedded (ACER)
  • Theoretical Frameworks (ref Modes of research link):

Keywords: Learning and Teaching Innovation, Students as Partners, Belonging Project, New initiatives “Studio” (DVC L&T).

FOR Code(s): 120399, 130201, 130313

Relevant literature:

  1. Design Pedagogy: developments in art and design education, Mike Tovey, Routledge, 2015
  2. Teaching Design: A guide to curriculum and pedagogy for college design faculty and teachers who use design in their classrooms, Meredith Davis, Allworth Press, 2017
  3. Self-regulated design learning: a foundation and framework for teaching and learning design, Matthew N. Powers, Routledge, 2017
  4. Art and Design Pedagogy in Higher Education: Knowledge, Values and Ambiguity in the Creative Curriculum, Susan Orr and Alison Shreeve, Routledge, 2018

Current Live Project

My First 6 Months – LINK

My First Six Months is a Project in the Industrial Design Program, School of Design at RMIT University. The focus is upon a blended, flipped and contemporary learner orientated program in four courses.

  • Drawing
  • Design for Sustainability Studio
  • User Centered Design Studio
  • Industrial Design Engineering
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