DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Van Riet, Catharina Maria; Khalandi, Gizing; Wijers, Jelle Alexander
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
Section: Established, alternative and emerging educational paradigms to equip engineers and designers for future challenges
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.71
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Professional identity and vision (PIV) development is important for students to shape their educational path and future careers. Students need guidance to transition from their university work into working life [3]. Especially for Industrial Design (ID) students, it is important to define who they are and want to be as designers. These students need to be prepared for a professional career working in a field with varying perspectives regarding emergent technologies and the role of designers. Recognizing this need, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) provides students with guidance on their PIV development. This guidance mainly takes the form of seminars which include supervised group discussions and students writing PIV documents. However, many students still struggle defining and writing their PIV. One way to facilitate students developing their PIV is externalizing and analyzing their underlying mental models. This uncovering of mental models can be done by expressing these models through tangible visual prostheses [1]. To supplement the mainly textual approach now offered in the seminars, we explored how an adapted Thinking with Things (TWT) toolkit [2] can help ID students in their PIV development and reflection. This toolkit makes use of visual prostheses to assist people in externalizing mental models. The usage of the TWT toolkit for PIV development involves groups of students working together with various tangible materials to construct a physical three-dimensional landscape representing elements of their identity and vision as well as any connections between these elements. Two case studies were conducted to observe the use of the toolkit. The first case study involved first-year bachelor students of ID and the second involved bachelor students of ID approaching graduation. Data collection was done through an adapted professional identity scale supplemented by a semi-structured interview, together aiming to cover students’ usage of the toolkit itself (e.g., material properties, projection of meaning on objects) as well as the takeaways they gained from it (reflection on current PIV, relating to peers, development of new PIV insights). We conclude that our adapted TWT toolkit is more suitable for students approaching their final bachelor graduation project and those beyond this stage in their degree, and that the main use of the toolkit lies in its reflective nature. First-year students’ challenges with their PIV did not primarily concern expressing or visualizing their mental models, but rather that they did not yet have sufficient experiences to build mental models around, and as a result had little to share or reflect on. (Upcoming) graduate students generally displayed a deeper understanding of the field and their role in it, but some still struggled to fully express or externalize this position using conventional methods, such as reflective writing. As a result of this study, the TU/e has integrated the TWT workshops for developing students’ PIV into its 23-24 curriculum. References:

Keywords: Design Education, Professional Identity, Professional Vision, Sensemaking, Physicalization


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