LIDDAMENT, T., 1996. Design and problem-solving. IDATER 1996 Conference, Loughborough: Loughborough University
The 'problem-solving' model of design and technological activity has emerged in recent decades, for example in recent work by APU. I have drawn attention elsewhere to some problems thrown up by the underlying epistemological assumptions typically presupposed by popular versions of the problem-solving model. Other commentators have also challenged what may be seen as a central assumption of the problem-solving activity; that it can be treated in some sense as itself a skill that may be acquired through design and technology activity, which may then be applied more generally to other problem areas, even in other domains not necessarily related to the original problem-solving context. The debate about the 'generalisability' of such (relatively) high level 'skills' as problem-solving has also invited much discussion across whole areas of learning and the curriculum in recent years.
I want in this paper to explore some of the assumptions that tend to be associated with the problem solving' approach to design and technology education, firstly by putting them in the context of the broader debate about 'problem solving' as a vehicle for learning. Secondly, I will argue that the problem solving model of design and technology education does little to promote our deeper understanding of the actual 'learning' involved and that we should seek to replace this model with a more comprehensive one which may more successfully capture our intuitions about the educational value of the activity.