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Design transformations: teaching design through evaluations

Ann Morrison (Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Hendrik Knoche (Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 3 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to synchronize two courses to focus on the students working with learning and applying tools in the one course and acting on understandings gained to produce artefacts in the other.


Working with real users throughout all stages of the design process, the authors structured two courses so findings from the evaluation methods learnt in the one course (their analyses) were directly acted on in the other (their re-designs). The authors fostered a group-spirited learning environment where students presented designs-in-process; explained the findings from focused evaluation methods using tangible representations; identified the relationship from these findings for subsequent re-design rationales; and discussed and critiqued each other's work using multiple feedback, teach-back and discursive strategies.


The authors found that in-depth coverage of material, working with real data and users at all stages of assessment and producing visualizations from evaluations, naturally forced student motivation to act and redesign better solutions. The authors noted improved attendance and students reported high engagement and content appreciation.

Research limitations/implications

Ensuring relevance, by adding larger context concerns, expansive critical methods and feedback processes in a cycle of understanding, acting, learning can have useful practical and social implications. This is germane when designing for quality of everyday use in, for example, education, urban environments and mobile applications.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for the development of learning environments where course and semester content is developed in tandem to support integrated learning by acting with project output and teach back “presentations” throughout the course.


The paper proposes a unifying tandem approach to learning and applying evaluation tools with real users, teachback and acting to improve redesigns with potential to improve human computer interaction educational standards for learning and design outcomes.



The authors thank the students for their willingness to learn in a developing learning environment.


Morrison, A. and Knoche, H. (2014), "Design transformations: teaching design through evaluations", Kybernetes, Vol. 43 No. 9/10, pp. 1372-1380.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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