Evaluating learning dynamics within a landscape of student centred learning

Richard Morris, Derek Covill, Tim Katz, Mark Milne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


In an environment where information is more easily accessible, yet evolving rapidly in an era of dynamic technological and social change, we face an increasingly ‘rapid obsolescence of knowledge’ [Toffler, 1970]. It is accordingly becoming increasingly accepted that learning should be based more on a student’s individual knowledge needs and more geared towards a process of life long learning, in line with views expounded originally by educational and social theorists such as Carl Rogers and John Dewey. This educational philosophy of student centred learning should hold particularly true for Product Design where graduates must remain connected to a wide variety of fast changing information as they pursue potentially widely diverse career and project challenges.One of the problems with any educational model however is in substantiating claims for effectiveness with results that can be easily influenced by uncontrollable causal inferences - factors such as group dynamic and ability or tutor style for example [Marsh et al, 2010]. Whilst a number of studies suggest that student centred learning – or aspects of it - is good practice, these tend towards multilevel model studies based on statistical measurement of outcomes which are again prone to bias or which are module perspective rather than generic. There is hence scope for additional supporting evidence including quantitative assessment based on non metricated analysis of the student learning experience based on a wider exploration of the entire learning landscape.The final year programme of the Product Design degree course at our British University lends itself to study requirement. The course learning philosophy aims to develop students as increasingly independent learners, starting with a structured first year but moving towards a significantly independent and self determined final year. This year is supported through traditional teaching methods such as lectures, tutorials and workshops, as well as a number of student centred learning mechanisms including Action Learning Sets, Common Interest Groups, independent learning contracts and peer crits for example. During this final year, students are required to document their learning moments as they proceed through their studies. This was conceived as a method of making clearer tutor feedback, but the resulting ‘learning logs’ are generating a significant body of evidence showing how students are learning in this type of educational environment.This paper therefore evaluates the collective learning logs of final year Product Design students. It aims to relate the evaluation to simplified models of learning, such as Bloom’s taxonomy, and to identify the key learning mechanisms and issues that enable good practice in support of this increasingly important but often poorly applied educational philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication14th international conference on engineering and product design education
Place of PublicationWiltshire, UK
PublisherDesign Society
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)1904670369
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2012
Event14th international conference on engineering and product design education - Artesis University College, Antwerp, Belgium 6-7th September, 2012
Duration: 6 Sept 2012 → …


Conference14th international conference on engineering and product design education
Period6/09/12 → …


  • Student centred learning
  • pedagogy
  • learning logs


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