Design Fiction a decade of reflection.pdf (15.08 MB)

Shaping Things: Design Fiction a Decade of Reflection

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posted on 20.01.2020 by Dawne Irving-Bell, Matt McLain, David Wooff

Drawing directly upon earlier work and informed by the findings of more recent studies, inspired originally by the work of Bruce Sterling, this paper presents a collection of narratives from experienced design and technology teachers who were introduced to the notion of ‘design fiction’ during their teacher education programmes to use as a catalyst to effect innovative pedagogical approaches to the teaching of design and technology.


Specifically, this paper seeks to explore the advantages of using this notion as a tool to focus not only on the effectual delivery of design, but in order to support the creation of a high-quality conceptual outcomes, where learning is concerned with innovation and the development of skill, rather than to produce a fully functional working model or artefact.


Having brought to the fore exemplar work created by the pre-service teachers themselves, presented in the form of vignettes, participants (who are now experienced teachers) give first-hand accounts of the influence that using design fiction as a catalyst for teaching has had on their own classroom practice. Adopting a case study approach, work presents examples of best practice, in practice, and explores specifically the advantages (and disadvantages) of this approach.


Participants report how this approach has supported the consolidation of learning, reinforcing skills, knowledge and understanding. Findings also make clear that through the adoption of design fiction, teachers witnessed an increase in student motivation to engage in design activity, and notably when working within traditionally gender dominated areas of the design and technology and STEM curricula, gender bias decreased.


In summary the work concludes with an overview of useful links as an aid to support those considering the exploration of this approach in their own settings, and in order to build upon work undertaken advocates the need for staff development to ensure developments within the field of speculative design are capitalised upon by teachers of design and technology education.

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