Design and Technology Education: An International Journal

Published 3rd December 2015

The Journal has been published three times a year since 1997, providing a wide range of leading research into Design and Technology to D&T Association members and the wider community.

Published online as well as in hard copy it can be found on Loughborough University's OJS (Open Journal Systems) server. All the papers published in Design and Technology Education: an International Journal (2005 onwards) and those published in earlier versions eg The Journal of Design and Technology Education (1996-2004) , Design &Technology Teaching (1989 - 1995) and Studies in Design, Craft and Technology (1970-1988) can be searched and freely downloaded either from the OJS server or via the online hub

The D&T Association’s research journal has a rigorous process of peer reviewing articles submitted for publication. The names of authors remain confidential until publication. All papers  are allocated 3 independent referees who work anonymously providing feed back to the author via the administration team using an agreed process. All work is done remotely and documents exchanged electronically.

The latest issue 2015, Vol. 20, No. 2, contains the following papers:

What’s D&T For? Gathering and Comparing the Values of Design and Technology Academics and Trainee Teachers, Alison Hardy


Some who read and research about Design & Technology (D&T) would say that the concept of value is key to understanding and defining D&T. Closer inspection reveals though that there are two ways in which values are defined in D&T: how values are taught and learnt about in D&T to use them to make judgments in D&T lessons, and also how values are developed in pupils as a result of studying D&T. Layton’s seminal keynote speech is the notable exception to these two classifications.

In 1992 he shared a new perspective of values and D&T: how different stakeholders value the school subject D&T (1992a).  The work presented here builds on Layton’s ‘new’ perspective and compares how two D&T stakeholder groups value D&T. The opinions of trainee D&T teachers and D&T academics, both directly affected by these changes were analysed using a grounded theory coded method. This resulted in a series of twenty-two values that facilitated comparison of the two group’s values. Further analysis revealed there were many similarities between the two groups, and only a few differences. However these differences showed the trainees did not believe D&T can be about the process of designing or identifying the needs of others, both values central to the original purpose of D&T in England and recognised by the academics. One implication for this, as schools take more ownership of teacher training, is that the value of D&T is likely to move further away from the D&T academics’ influence and be based upon the ‘spontaneous’ (Dow 2014, p.151) values developed through classroom practice with little reference to external opinion.

Future work could widen the scope of the research, incorporating the values of other stakeholder groups into the values series and hence become a new tool to support the development of design and technology education, which hopefully will benefit others as they reflect on why they teach, research or use D&T.

Crafting Maths: Exploring Mathematics Learning through Crafts, Sirpa Kokko, Lasse Eronen, Kari Sormunen


This article introduces a project in a Finnish secondary school where mathematics education was combined with crafts instruction. The idea was to provide the students with an interdisciplinary real-world learning context in which they worked collaboratively on an open-ended design task. The approach was problem-based and student-centred in a way that Neumann (2013) describes to be in and with students. The teacher’s role was to allow the students to self-generate their learning and to work in partnership with them. The students were given a rather open-ended, ill-defined design task that required them to take risks, find information and collaborate. The student interviews (N=17) after the project revealed that their attitude to mathematics had become more positive. They began to understand the connections between these school subjects in an authentic learning environment. They learned to solve problems and combine theoretical and practical knowledge. Their understanding of the importance of mathematics in real-world situations increased. The project demonstrates how to arrange teaching and learning in a more holistic way instead of in a traditional subject-based approach. This kind of interdisciplinary approach demands good cooperation from both the students and the teachers. For interdisciplinary education to be further developed, support is needed for the teachers to collaborate and learn new teaching approaches.

Technical Objects Between Categorisation and Learning: An exploratory case study in French middle school, Maria Impedovo


In this article we present exploratory research carried out in order to understand how students (from 12 to 14 years old) relate to technical objects. It uses technical objects that are part of everyday life and mediated reality. A questionnaire was administered to 57 students in French classes. The questionnaire was composed of three parts:

1) the detection of technical characteristics of objects;

2) the ability to create relationships between objects; and

3) the direct use of technical objects and personal interest in sciences and technology. The results how the complexity of the relationship with technical objects and the need for an educational mediated intervention of design and technology education.

The Threshold of Uncertainty in Teaching Design, Jane Osmond, Michael Tovey


In many of our universities and colleges there is a long established approach to teaching design through practice.  For most students their end goal is to achieve a level of capability to function as designers in the professional world. Their education helps them construct a passport to enter this community of professional practice. Part of the legacy of the funding initiative in England to support 
research into teaching has been the development of a better understanding of a practice-based approach to design pedagogy. This was a principal focus in two centres funded by the initiative in which ‘signature pedagogies’ were identified as a distinguishing characteristic for developing student capability within various types of design practice, each of which contains those elements, which are characteristic of the discipline. This notion moves the emphasis away from the content of the curriculum and explores the importance of practical, embodied and experiential ways of knowing. Where these were investigated for product and automotive design the concept of transformative practice was identified as crucial.  Designers typically employ two simultaneous interacting cognitive styles. From a five-year longitudinal study involving 89 design students, it became clear that in order to develop the confidence to match these two modes of thought, neophyte designers needed to surmount a barrier, or a threshold concept, which we labelled the toleration of of design uncertainty. Accommodating effective arrangements to accomplish this has reinforced the importance of employing the traditional arrangement of studio teaching and given it a greater focus.

Phenomenology for Introductory Architectural Analysis Courses: The pentagon methodological approach 

Fátima Pombo, Bervoets Wouter, Henk De Smet


As a consequence of fruitful discussions about joining theory and practice both in design research and educational design programmes, this article aims to explore phenomenological parameters in the framework of an exercise for Engineer-architecture students from the University of Leuven in Belgium. Relying upon the arguments of recognised architects regarding the importance of the phenomenological approach in the field of architecture, it is intended to propose a five-step method (pentagon) to add to architectural analytical exercises. The paper argues that an explicit phenomenological awareness within architectural design education should be addressed in addition to the potential references to architectural phenomenology in theoretical courses or in the discourse of architectural design teachers during the studio courses. This article begins this process through the discussion of one example: ‘Integrated Seminar on Housing’ which is taught in the first semester of the bachelor programme. A qualitative review of the outcomes of the exercise stresses a positive effect in the development of students’ skills that are not an explicit focus of methodologies related to programmatic or technical skills. The conclusions encourage the development of the experimental study to improve the complementarity of the phenomenological approach with the more technical methodologies. In the final reflections about the results of the pentagon methodological approach some evidence is provided in respect to the article’s claims.

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