Threshold concepts and the transport and product design curriculum: reports of research in progress

JANE Osmond, Karen Bull, Michael Tovey

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This journal article recaps on the identification of the threshold concept and explores preliminary thoughts on how the identification of hitherto tacit knowledge can feed into the design thinking and solutioning process. From this, the article offers some implications for the enhancement of teaching and learning within the design curriculum (from the discussion in the article): Typically then, design problems are ill-defined, ill-structured, or ‘wicked’. When designers embark on a piece of design they do not have all the information that is necessary to solve the design problem. In fact it is argued that they almost always lack a proportion of it, and that by their nature design problems are not susceptible to exhaustive analysis. Experience indicates that ideally the only practicable way forward is to produce a draft solution, so that the problem can be kept within manageable bounds. This approach seems to be core to designing and implies a whole way of understanding the world and responding to it. This has been characterized as the ‘Designerly Way of Knowing’ by Cross (1982), a mode of thought that has five aspects: 1. Designers tackle ill-defined problems 2. Their mode of problem solving is solution focused 3. Their mode of thinking is constructive 4. They use codes that translate abstract requirements into concrete objects They use these codes to both read and write in the object languages
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalArt, Design and Communication in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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