The new paradigm for design and technology introduced by
Breckon in 2001 re-opened the debate about the nature and
assessment of design and technology (D&T) in schools. He
proposed a model with four elements each independently
assessed. Design and technology subject knowledge was one
of these elements. This re-opened the debate about the
relationship between designing and subject knowledge.
This paper charts a brief history of the change in thinking
about this relationship, particularly design process models.
Research with focus groups of students in higher education,
all with experience of doing D&T at GCSE level, throws
further light on what is currently happening in schools and
particularly the GCSE examination system. Comparisons
are made with how subject knowledge is used to support
designing within degree level product design courses. The
paper concludes with a call for a re-think of how subject
knowledge and designing can be taught in a more
integrated way in schools, possibly using the product design
model as a starting point.