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The Pedagogy Of Design

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.471.1 - 1.471.11

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Paper Authors

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Denise Dorricott

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Richard Devon

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2625

The Pedagogy of Design

Richard Devon, Denise Dorricott The Pennsylvania State University

Abstract Contemporary society is characterized by an unprecedented rate of change. Such a high rate of change means that the development and application of knowledge under (new) problematic situations is what we do the most. A broad, and current, conception of engineering design includes methods for applying knowledge that are of great relevance for a range of human activities far wider than that usually covered by engineering design. It is suggested that pedagogy is one of those activities that can benefit greatly by being informed by design methods. Thus, we can prepare all students for a changing world by teaching them the norms and methods of design through a pedagogy which embraces those norms and methods. The theoretical and research support for such a pedagogy is also presented.

Social Change Technology is one of the forces that drives social change, and it seems to be doing so at an increasing rate. It led to the transition from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy to a service economy. Now, with massive corporate re-engineering laying off hundreds of thousand of white collar workers, a new order may be emerging.1 This time it is information technology that is the driving force.

Changing one’s job more often is only part of the modern scene. Restructuring the organizations where people work is another. In a survey of 12,000 managers in 6 countries, Kanter found that 36-71% of the mangers said that there had been a major restructuring in the last two years.2 The figure for the United States was 59%. And many of the managers in the United States responded affirmatively to questions whether there had been a reduction in employment (31%), or an internal expansion (26%), or a merger, divestiture, or acquisition (35%).3 Regardless of whether we keep our jobs and or experience restructuring, our job descriptions change continuously. Information technology is the main reason for this as the half life of much of the software our work is embedded in seems to have a half life of barely a year.

Global forces also are immensely influential in changing our lives. Global economic competition has led to many changes in the nature of work.4 The end of the Cold War and global penetration and integration of national economies have triggered many highly informed commentaries on the “twilight of sovereignty” thesis that nation states are rapidly losing their influence on people’s lives.5 Information technology is a key here, too, with the quantity of global messages and data flows increasing by many orders of magnitude over the last few decades.6

These changes, and many others relating to politics and social differentiation, create problematic situations wherein people need to get together to define the problems and to develop options for dealing with them - although they do not always react this way. Design, in the broad sense, then, is a profound constituent of our culture. Done well, it is of great value. And, if we want it to be done well, it should be taught and practiced in our educational institutions.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Dorricott, D., & Devon, R. (1996, June), The Pedagogy Of Design Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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