Using the Design Cycle in Lessons
Identifying the Problem - In years 7 to 9, I present a problem to the students. We discuss how the problem relates to the area of learning, the short-term and long-term effects, who or what is affected by the problem, and how others are trying to solve this problem. Students in year 10 and above should be able to identify a problem by themselves.
Design Brief – Before giving the design brief to students, have them brainstorm possible solutions for the problem. Have the class discuss the pros and cons of each solution.
Research – Collecting information from multiple sources is not always that easy, but has to be encouraged. Students tend to accept information on the internet as being valid and rarely back it up with alternative sources.
Design Specification – A document containing details of the product's required characteristics, and all the processes, materials and other information needed to design the product. The design specification could include the following: Purpose, Aesthetics, Functional Characteristics, Form/Shape/Style, Safety or Moral Issues, Scale of Production, User Requirements or Target Market, Budget Constraints and Materials, Time and Resources, Quality of Design, Product’s Performance, Product’s Price and Value for Money. The design specification should not limit the student’s ability to design possible solutions, but allow for versatility.
Rubric for Appropriate Testing of Possible Products – Based on the design specification, students create a rubric by which they assess the range of possible solutions against the design specification.
Rough Ideas – Here I ask students to simply put their ideas on paper. During the investigation stage, students formed images of possible solutions. The sketches don’t have to be neat or organized and they should never be erased.
Neat Designs – I require students to produce a minimum of three possible solutions. Each design should be a neat presentation of the possible solution and should include a product name, labels and descriptions, color or shading techniques.
Designs Evaluated against the Design Specification with Rubric - By carefully assessing each possible solution against the design specification, students should find a winning product that complies with the list of rules set in the design specification. Students who find solutions with similar results could ask for the opinion of classmates. Sometimes a different perspective is needed for an authentic result.
Justification of Choice – When a winning design has been decided on, the student needs to justify their choice by referring to the design specification. I ask students to write an essay-style reflection on how the winning solution complies with each criterion in the design specification.
Modifications to Final Design – Sometimes not all criteria in the design specification are successfully met. The student needs to modify the design so that it complies with each criterion.
Orthographic Scale Drawing – A scale drawing showing the front, top and side view of the product is essential as it allows the student to view the product in scale, produce measurements of materials needed, and successfully plan for production.
Production Plan – A step-by-step guide for production of the solution which includes materials and resources needed for each lesson.
Create – The student follows the plan closely and modifies the design or plan where necessary. A product of appropriate quality is produced through the competent use of a variety of tools. The student should use appropriate techniques to finish the product.
Production Diary and Evaluations – Throughout the production stage, the student should keep a diary which includes all problems faced and how these were addressed.
Self Evaluation – The student tests the success of the product by referring to the design specification. When evaluating the product, emphasis should be placed on the impact of the product on the environment, societies, cultures, and life. The student should also evaluate themselves at each stage in the design cycle and suggest an improvement plan for weak areas. Since the learner profile attributes are essential for developing international-minded students, have them reflect on the attributes they displayed throughout the design cycle. The learner profile attributes are: Inquirer, Knowledgeable, Thinker, Communicator, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-taker, Balanced, and Reflective.