Determining jewellery students’ CAD competencies as a means to incorporate a student-led teaching strategy: A case study



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • computer-aided design, jewellery design, student-led teaching strategy


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes to educators’ teaching approaches. The pandemic has also highlighted the role that technology and the fourth industrial revolution play in the future of tertiary education. Many educators have to adapt to these changes and adopt strategies to benefit the students’ prospective positions in various industries. Computer-aided design (CAD) has revolutionised the jewellery industry, mainly through decreasing production timelines, increasing the accuracy of the pieces, and creating production-ready designs. Initially, the industry was slow to integrate the technology, but it is now widely used in jewellery manufacturing.

CAD has been implemented in a South African university of technology’s jewellery programme as part of the jewellery design module. Between 2018 and 2020, there was an apparent and significant change with each intake of first-year students’ ability to adapt to the CAD software. Students quickly comprehend the commands and easily gather know-how about the technology. The students’ computer skills and increased understanding of technology mean that educators must adapt and adjust teaching strategies so that the students can benefit in their future employment.

This research aimed to ascertain why each cohort of students adapts to CAD more readily and what factors play a role in the process. The methodology included a literature review and a questionnaire. The questionnaire was completed by the current first, second, and third-year jewellery students, gauged their interest in technology, and sought information about their exposure to technology before enrolling in first year and compared this to their CAD competencies during first year. Students were asked how they experienced the CAD learning process. The questionnaire’s findings created solutions to CAD-specific problems the students face and assisted with the CAD teaching approach.

The research results include the data from the completed questionnaires of the students and are discussed in this paper. The research ascertains how the CAD teaching strategy should be altered to enhance the students’ teaching and learning experience while remaining relevant to their competency level.


DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (