Sónia Raquel Santos Nunes André

From Teaching to Learning of Design: The Student in the Center of the Learning


Carlos Rosa, PhD, IADE - Universidade Europeia
Diana Dias, PhD, Universidade Europeia


This research work has as main objective the evaluation of a pedagogical device based on Project-Based Learning (PBL) in the context of Design teaching. Project-based learning is a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning in the classroom and is designed to engage students in researching and solving authentic problems around projects. According to the definitions found in the PBL manuals, projects are complex tasks, based on challenging questions or problems, involving students in problem solving, decision-making or research activities; give students the opportunity to work autonomously for long periods of time and culminate in realistic products or presentations (Jones, Rasmussen e Moffitt, 1997; Thomas, Mergendoller e Michaelson, 1999). Introducing and implementing the PBL in a traditional teaching institution can be a complex challenge, requiring a significant shift in teachers' approaches to teaching and student approaches to learning. And the teacher should not just give directions or expect students to repeat facts. Instead, it is to provide resources that help students research and develop content intentionally and creatively. In order to obtain results, we will carry out a case study at IADE - European University, which seeks to know the perceptions and experiences of the various participants (students and teachers) regarding the PBL. This study will focus on the two design courses of the institution, taking into account the different pedagogical and curricular approaches. It is also intended to analyze the impact of Project-Based Learning on the processes and learning outcomes of students as well as the implications for the work of teachers. Taking into account the research objectives and evaluation perspectives, we will opt for an essentially quantitative research paradigm, and if we verify its pertinent also the qualitative one, centered on methods and techniques of data collection (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, Observation), aiming to collect as much information about the perceptions of the various stakeholders involved in the PBL experiences, in the Bachelor's Degree in Design Global compared to the traditional method of teaching the Bachelor’s Degree in Design.

Keywords: Teaching; Design; Differential Reasoning; PBL (Project-Based Learning); Behaviour


With this study, it is intended to contribute to the reflection around the improvement of the quality of the processes of education in Design. The achievement of these objectives presupposes the monitoring and analysis of the dynamics of two case studies (two degrees in design of IADE – Universidade Europeia), throughout its various phases. However the possibility of extending this study to other higher education courses is not placed.

1.1 General Objectives
  • Contribute to the reflection about improving the quality of teaching/learning processes in higher education in the area of Design.

  • Traditional learning vs. Project-based Learning.

  • Contribute to the development of learning based on Project-based Learning (PBL).

  • Measurement of reasoning through - Battery of Differential Reasoning: verbal, numerical, abstract, spatial and mechanical reasoning.

  • LPA: results and comparison of the data collected in LPA at the beginning and at the end of the degree.

1.2 Specific Objectives
  • Evaluate the impact of PBL pedagogical device in the teaching of Design.

  • Understand the perceptions and experiences of the different participant (students and teachers)

  • Analyse the repercussions of this pedagogical device, given its interdisciplinary nature

  • Confronting students expectations with final results

  • Analyse the variables that influence this methodology, especially at the level of teaching and learning processes.

2 Case Study - IADE – Universidade Europeia

IADE – Universidade Europeia is a laboratory of creativity, talent and leadership recognised by society as a whole. It has encouraged students to put their own talents to the test, to believe in themselves, making them the best of the best, in their personal lives or in their future professional integration.

IADE today is a reference in teaching Creativity. It is also one of the best Design schools in Europe and a pioneer in Marketing, Advertising and Photography.

The mission of IADE-U, while University Institute and true successor of the current university schools of IADE – the Design School and the Superior Marketing School and Advertising – is taking the place of reference institution in the teaching of Visual Arts of the XXI century in Portugal and in the global context around the concept of Design, with the contribution of Marketing and especially of Advertising, without forgetting the importance and specificity of Photography and Visual Culture, all areas of knowledge interaction with the market.

2.1 IADE Bachelor’s Degree in Design

This degree aims to develop a solid formation and the promotion of a wide range of competences for an innovative and socially valid professional practice in the creative areas. Throughout the course, the realization of projects with real application, aims to bring the students closer to the job market, preparing them to perform a function in the area of design. This training, built from the multidisciplinary and integrative dialogue, has a generalist character thought for the continuation of specialized studies at the masters level.

2.2 IADE Bachelor’s Degree in Global Design

This Bachelor’s Degree is based on PBL - Project-Based Learning - where the project curricular unit leads the semester. In each semester there is a project that combines all the curricular units of that semester. Also included in the study plan is a Professional Exploration curricular unit which introduces a very interesting feature: there's a pause in the semester and projects are carried out in collaboration with companies.

3 Methodology

After identifying the objectives of this study, we proceeded to characterize the context and the participants of the study and it was verified that the quantitative methodology will be the most adequate.

The quantitative research connects to the positivist paradigm, which conceives of reality as unique and static according to which objective factors exist, independently of the researcher, and can be isolated (Fortin, Côté & Filion, 2009).

In general, it can be said that the quantitative method aims, in particular, explain and predict a phenomenon by measurement of the variables and by analysis of numerical data.

The objective is to establish facts, to put in evidence relations between variable by means of the verification of hypotheses, to predict resulted of cause and effect or to verify theoretical theories or proposals.

Regarding the qualitative methodology, according to the studies that we will carry out (which are not yet fully defined), if we verify in the course of the research that will be useful and pertinent for a better understanding of the collected data, we will use.

The purpose of this research approach used for the development of knowledge is to describe or interpret, rather than to evaluate. This way of developing knowledge demonstrates the primary importance of understanding the researcher and the participants in the research process.

The phenomena are unique and not predictable, and the thinking is oriented to the total understanding of the phenomenon under study (Patton, 1990).

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