Designing Contexts for Learning Design

Yoram Reich, Eli Kolberg, and Ilya Levin
School of Mechanical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
E-mail: yoram@eng.tau.ac.il

Abstract:
Any learning activity including learning to design takes place in a particular context. Given the goals of the learning activity, this context could be designed, in a way that other products are designed, to satisfy its goals. In a reflective consistent discipline, such as design research could be, design researchers that develop design tools, use these tools to design their research. We present a case study in which a mechatronics design course for high school students was designed using design tools. The course design included teaching design tools. A controlled study showed that the design of the course led to outstanding results. Students engaged in the course, compared to students who studied fewer design tools, won an international robotics competition, improved their science grades, displayed superior design skills, and improved their technology perception. These results demonstrated that by careful design, successful contexts for learning design could be created. In addition, they demonstrated that being reflectively consistent in design research is rewarding. In summary, we also present ideas for further improving the design of the design course.

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