1981 volume 8(4) pages 435 – 448
doi:10.1068/b080435

Cite as:
Phillips E M, Johnson J H, 1981, "A structural investigation in design education" Environment and Planning B 8(4) 435 – 448

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A structural investigation in design education

E M Phillips, J H Johnson

Received 5 September 1981

Abstract. Phillip's repertory grid data on children's perception of designed objects had been collected during an experiment devised within Kelly's personal construct theory. Some of the data returned by the children cannot be processed by the techniques usually applied to repertory grids. The slicing method of Q-discrimination analysis, a part of Q-analysis, allows these 'illegal' data to be processed without distortion of the children's replies. Although the Q-analysis shows the data are incomplete, it allows some tentative structural observations to be made. It was found that the children's recorded perceptions varied considerably, that some of their constructs were more logical or useful than others, but that there was considerable consensus over what they liked. The teachers' judgements on good or bad design were not identical, but surprisingly the group new to design lessons estimated their teachers' judgements best. The other group with two years previous design lessons used simpler constructs and these caused them less problems. Given a stimulating environment suited to developing new perspectives and encouraging creativity, the procedural aspect of design is argued to be best served by guiding children towards using more precise and widely applicable constructs.

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