Rediscovering apprenticeship models in design education

Erik Bohemia, Kerry Harman, Berto Pandolfo

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Apprenticeship models of learning have generated renewed interest in learning and adult education literature during the last decade. This paper suggests that this model of learning might potentially open up learning spaces in the academy that traditionally might not have been available in this learning context. It proposes that a communities of practice model could be useful for developing both student and lecturer professional practice in the field of design. Two case studies are used to highlight some of the potential as well as some of the issues surrounding the implementation of this learning model. The first case study, in which a shared learning experience came about serendipitously between a design academic and a group of design students will illustrate some of the learning opportunities afforded by this approach. The case study suggests that this model of learning, which involves students and lecturers sharing a workshop space to produce models and prototypes, might contribute to enhanced questioning and discussion around design process and strategy between students and lecturers. As well as the benefits to students afforded by this learning model it provides academics with an opportunity to be actively involved in their own professional skill development which is thought to be an important part of practise-based design education. It is proposed that an apprenticeship model of learning could supplement other teaching and learning strategies, for example design studios, tutorials, lectures and workshops, rather than replace them. The second case study illustrates issues surrounding implementation of a community of practice strategy into a final year design course in an Australian university. While it was thought by the subject co-ordinator that this learning strategy would enhance practice-based design learning, the case study highlights some of the dilemmas for lecturers associated with this type of teaching strategy and discusses the subsequent lack of uptake of this model by the academic staff. The difficulties associated with implementing communities of practice draws attention to a paradox associated with formalising the informal.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007
EventCreativity or Conformity?: Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education - Cardiff
Duration: 1 Jan 2007 → …


ConferenceCreativity or Conformity?: Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education
Period1/01/07 → …


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