This paper will describe Phase 1 of a three-year study
that is investigating how students learn to make design
decisions. Three research questions drove this phase of
the study: (a) What do students believe designers do?
(b) What do students believe about the knowledge and
skills designers must possess? and (c) What do students
believe about the design decisions made by the
designer of a given product?
Data was collected using two questionnaires
administered to one class of Grade 6 students. The first,
administered prior to students attempting a Capability
Task, has provided base-line data for the remainder of
the study. The second questionnaire was administered
after students had completed a Capability Task and its
associated Resource Tasks. Analysis of the data involved
descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.
Analysis of the data has revealed that students, who had
no previous experience of design and technology
education, demonstrated a considerable knowledge of
not only what designers do, what skills they need to
have and their personal characteristics, but also
substantial knowledge of what designers need to know
in order to design a range of products. It appears as
though their experiences and perceptions of the
designed world provide a significant fund of knowledge
relevant to learning to design.