Design lecturers' pedagogical approach to practical studio sessions during the rapid transition to online learning



Design Education Strategy
Learning & Interaction Design


  • COVID-19, cognitive apprenticeship model, design studio pedagogy, online pedagogy


Design education revolves around the effectiveness of face-to-face interactions in the design studio for design pedagogy to be effective (Hammershaimb 2018). During the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in South Africa in 2020, design-specialised lecturers had to rapidly transition their practical-orientated contact classes to online classes. Design education lecturers had to come to terms with students distanced from themselves, the institutional studio, and their peers. Lecturers had to rethink their pedagogical choices while preserving their programmes' academic integrity. This qualitative study focused on design lecturers' approach to facilitating the sudden change from contact-orientated classes to online classes for first-year Bachelor of Design students whose exposure to design education was little to none. This descriptive case study adopted an interpretivist stance and used the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model (CAM) as a theoretical framework to guide the analysis of data derived from five education design lecturers' semi-structured interviews and a focus group interview. This study does not establish the effectiveness or success of these design lecturers' pedagogical approaches; however, it clearly describes how design lecturers were able to conduct their studio classes in the online environment with a combination of various CAM methods.

Findings indicate that lecturers were familiar with and applied modelling, coaching, scaffolding, and exploration in their studio pedagogy. However, they were not clear on the distinction between reflection and articulation, and as a result, these methods were underutilised. These findings add to the debate on whether design education is over-reliant on physical studio-related pedagogies and whether pedagogies suited for the online environment can be equally effective. Therefore, future studies could further investigate the effectiveness of these design lecturers' pedagogical approaches, their use of Information and Communication Technologies to mediate practical design sessions, and what these practices mean for future design educational practices in South Africa.


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