Making explicit in design education: generic elements in the design process

  • Elise van Dooren
  • Els Boshuizen
  • Jeroen van Merriënboer
  • Thijs Asselbergs
  • Machiel van Dorst


In general, designing is conceived as a complex, personal, creative and open-ended skill. Performing a well-developed skill is mainly an implicit activity. In teaching, however, it is essential to make explicit. Learning a complex skill like designing is a matter of doing and becoming aware how to do it. For teachers and students therefore, it will be helpful to make the design process explicit. In this paper, a conceptual framework is developed to be more explicit about the design process. Based on research of the design process, on differences between novices and expert designers, and on personal experience in design education practice, five generic elements in the design process are distinguished: (1) experimenting or exploring and deciding, (2) guiding theme or qualities, (3) domains, (4) frame of reference or library, (5) laboratory or (visual) language. These elements are generic in the sense that they are main aspects and always present in the complex, personal, creative and open-ended design process.


Design process Generic elements Design education Making explicit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elise van Dooren
    • 1
  • Els Boshuizen
    • 2
  • Jeroen van Merriënboer
    • 3
  • Thijs Asselbergs
    • 1
  • Machiel van Dorst
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ArchitectureDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Open UniversiteitHeerlenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Educational Development and ResearchMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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