The nature and nurture of design ability

Cross, Nigel (2002). The nature and nurture of design ability. In: Owen-Jackson, Gwyneth ed. Design and Technology in Secondary Schools. Routledge.



Understanding the nature of design ability can better enable design educators to nurture its development in their students. Such understanding has been promoted by a wide variety of studies of design activity and designer behaviour. From a review of these studies, design ability is summarised as comprising resolving ill-defined problems, adopting solution-focussed cognitive strategies, employing abductive or appositional thinking and using non-verbal modelling media. These abilities are highly developed in skilled designers, but are also possessed in some degree by everyone. A case is therefore made for design ability as a fundamental form of human intelligence. The nurture of this ability through design education is discussed, with particular reference to what has been learned of the nature of design ability.

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