Making explicit in design education: generic elements in the design process

Elise van Dooren*, Els Boshuizen, Jeroen van Merrienboer, Thijs Asselbergs, Machiel van Dorst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In general, designing is conceived as a complex, personal, creative and open-ended skill. Performing a well-developed skill is mainly an implicit activity. In teaching, however, it is essential to make explicit. Learning a complex skill like designing is a matter of doing and becoming aware how to do it. For teachers and students therefore, it will be helpful to make the design process explicit. In this paper, a conceptual framework is developed to be more explicit about the design process. Based on research of the design process, on differences between novices and expert designers, and on personal experience in design education practice, five generic elements in the design process are distinguished: (1) experimenting or exploring and deciding, (2) guiding theme or qualities, (3) domains, (4) frame of reference or library, (5) laboratory or (visual) language. These elements are generic in the sense that they are main aspects and always present in the complex, personal, creative and open-ended design process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-71
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Design process
  • Generic elements
  • Design education
  • Making explicit

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