A discussion of the Applicability in Design Studies of the Principle of Exemplary Learning
The didactic principle of exemplary learning may be defined briefly as 'learning by example'. In design education, working with a practical example is particularly appropriate, because design by definition is about creating a solution to a practical problem. Indeed, some design theorists claim that design knowledge and knowing is inseparable from practice, as in Donald Schön's suggestion that design education could be organized as a 'practicum' and based theoretically on an 'epistemology of practice'. However, the combination of exemplary learning and design studies does raise several questions, including: If design knowing is bound to a given practical design context, how is it possible to generalize such knowing, as presumably required by an exemplary learning approach? To explore these questions, an account is given of the theories of exemplary learning proposed by Martin Wagenschein and Oskar Negt and the theories of design proposed by Herbert Simon and Schön. Simon's proposal of a generic science of design aligns well with Wagenschein's view of exemplary learning as a universal didactic approach. Therefore, in a sense, Simon's view is the most consistent with an exemplary learning approach. Conversely, Schön sees a large part of design knowledge as domainspecific, and aligns well with Oskar Negt's view of exemplary learning as a means to acquire a certain mode of thinking and acting, rather than insight into universal laws. Therefore, Schön's view is perhaps only partially consistent with an exemplary learning approach, and suggests caution about its implementation in design study programs.
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Visions, Challenges and Strategies for Problem based Learning International onference, 4 - 6 MAY 2010 - at Aalborg University