The Design Approach and Activity Led Learning

Michael Tovey, J. Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)
268 Downloads (Pure)


Two approaches to design and engineering pedagogy have been developed at Coventry University. They are the Design Approach which is being applied in the Industrial Design Department and Activity-Led Learning which is being applied across Faculty of Engineering and Computing. They have much in common, including the emphasis on communities of learners and the preparation for entry to professional practice through contact with real life projects. The Design Approach involves an emphasis on project based activity. At the core of being able to engage in designerly thinking, balancing creative and evaluative thinking is a dual processing match of linear and simultaneous processes as a conversation between these two modes of thought. Design students achieving this match must confront and travel through a key threshold which we have labelled the ‘toleration of design uncertainty’. Activity-Led Learning is an approach to education based on providing stimulating activity that engages and enthuses students and creates challenge, relevance, integration, professional awareness and variety. An activity is a project, problem, scenario, case-study, enquiry, research question (or similar) in a class-room, in a laboratory, at work, or in any other educational context. Activities will often cross subject boundaries, as activities within professional practice do. Many involve design project work, particularly those for the Faculty’s Architecture course. In this area there are significant similarities to the Design Approach. The purpose of this paper is be to compare and contrast these approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDS 69: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
Place of PublicationUniversity of Strathclyde, Scotland
PublisherDesign Society
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011

Bibliographical note

This paper was presented at the London E&PDE2011 (13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education) 'Design education for creativity and business innovation' conference at City University London, 8-9 September 2011. Details of the proceedings and papers can be found on the Design Society website at
The publisher and copyright holder is the Design Society, UK


  • design pedagogy
  • thresholds
  • activity led learning
  • communities


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