Preliminary study of how 21st-Century Skills are developed during a participatory user-centred curriculum intervention at Key Stage 3 in Design and Technology
Keywords:Participatory design, Empathy, User Centred Design, 21st Century Skills, Design Education
Whilst designing ‘for and with’ end-users has been commonplace in the professional design space since the 1970s, there is a lack of research evidence of empathic or human-centred design in primary and secondary education. This paper presents a preliminary study of the ‘Solving Genuine Problems for Authentic Users Project’ conducted to explore the effect that involving end-users throughout the design process has on students and their outcomes as part of their Key Stage 3 D&T education. Sixteen 12-13-year-old students at a secondary school in England worked in teams of four to with a member of the school catering staff to develop a prototype, aimed towards solving a problem that they identified together. The student researchers utilised agency in the research methods they employed to gain a better understanding of the design context. Data included a pre and post questionnaire to measure students’ creative potential which helped to improve an understanding of how empathy, a recognised 21st-Century Skill, was developed over the course of the study. Other data collected included photographs of student work and the students’ field notes. Data was thematically coded to offer a narrative of the findings. This study contributes to the growing understanding of 21st-Century Skill development in a D&T context, as well as the facilitation of face-to-face collaboration with end-users at an early stage of secondary design and technology education.
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