Facilitating Transition to Team Based Design Education

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


When students enroll in Problem Based Learning (PBL) and Project-oriented universities at Industrial Design programs, what are their expectations and prerequisites for starting to learn about design and work in teams with design? The short answer is: not as much as they think, studies shows that even if they had previous experience with project work in teams, they still encounter problems during their first semesters.
The PBL based and project oriented Industrial Design Engineering program used in this investigation is very process focused with the objective of opening the process for engagement for all members in the design team. This is partly due to the structure and organization of the Programmes at the University, where almost all project activities throughout a curriculum are carried out in groups.
This challenge any student with a pre-perception of design as an individual, artistic profession, but at the same time it becomes very difficult to identify where and how the design is created since form-giving now becomes a group effort.
So as a way to ease the transition from highly framed and facilitated high school learning context to university self-driven learning context a small experiment was carried out in 2011 and 2012 in form of a “Survival Kit”. This paper investigates the long-term effect of the “Survival Kit” regarding the students’ development in understanding the expectations towards them and the pitfalls in studying and working projects in teams through questionnaires given to two set of students; one set that received the survival kit in 2011 and 2012 and one set that did not. The questionnaire inquires the students’ attitude towards 4 aspects:
1.General level of preparedness for team and problem based project work
2.Level of information of expectations from supervisors and programme
3.Reflection of the role in a team, problem based project work
4.The level of information of special expectations from the Industrial Design program towards team and problem based project work.
Results indicates that Class receiving the “Survival Kit” improved in the calibration of expectations and enhance students attitude towards dealing with development projects as an external professional activity, rather than an internal personal activity, thus increasing team-orientation.
This little experiment indicates that there could be a potential increase in students learning and willingness to study and experiment in the Industrial Design Engineering programme by being more explicit in the communication and facilitating the entry into the university system in the first few semesters. It is important to more explicitly put the expectations into perspective of both the professional field of study as well as the study environment as a project-oriented Problem Based Learning stage. This stage is important to stress that the responsibility of learning is on the students shoulders, since learning is such an inherent part of the abductive reasoning in the design process that you cannot outsource the learning responsibility to “teaching” activities from lectures and supervisor.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDS 78: Proceedings of the E&PDE 2014 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design, University of Twente, The Netherlands :  Design Education and Human Technology Relations
EditorsErik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationScotland
PublisherDesign Society
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print)978-1-904670-56-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe 16th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education & Human Technology Relations - University of Twente , Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Sep 20145 Sep 2014


ConferenceThe 16th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
LocationUniversity of Twente
Internet address


  • Problem Based Learning
  • Design education
  • Facilitation
  • Survival Kit

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    Tollestrup, C. (2014). Facilitating Transition to Team Based Design Education. In E. Bohemia, A. Eger, W. Eggink, A. Kovacevic, B. Parkinson, & W. Wits (Eds.), DS 78: Proceedings of the E&PDE 2014 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design, University of Twente, The Netherlands:  Design Education and Human Technology Relations (Vol. 16, pp. 340-345). Design Society. https://www.designsociety.org/publication/35905/facilitating_transition_to_team_based_design_education