Examining the Effectiveness of Group Studies and Individual Studies in Design Education
Today's world considerably requires collaborating and co-working in professional life, especially in architecture and design field. However, during the higher education, especially in design field, for the design studio courses; education depends on the students' individual works and the improvement process of their design ideas and proposals. Besides, education methodologies change during the time. In the context of the design education, it is possible to conduct design studio courses with individual student works or group works. During the last years some higher education institutions, especially for design education, changed their education methodology and started to conduct studio courses with group studies. However, the important point is to identify the most effective education method in design field in terms of learning experience and obtained knowledge. This research focuses on revealing the effects of group works and individual works on effective learning in design education. In line with this purpose students of the Furniture Design course were selected to carried out a survey. The course consists of theoretical lectures, site trips, seminars and studio works/discussions. In the context of this course, students are expected to study on two term projects which they are required to improve design ideas by researching, sketching, drawing and modelling with solving the production details of their design idea and for each term project students are required to produce a mockup furniture, as in professional life. These term projects designed as on purpose in order to simulate a design problem that students may encounter in professional life. During the semester, for each project, four courses assigned to the studio works and discussions on term projects. For the first term project students worked as individually in a small-scale furniture design problem - side table, lighting fixture or bedside table - and for the second term project they work as in groups for two people on a sitting unit as a more comprehensive furniture design problem. A research questionnaire was developed, and an evaluation criterion was determined to reveal the effectiveness of group studies and individual studies in design education. The questionnaire was developed to carried out on students, to analyze the learning experiences and obtained knowledge of students during the studio works. This questionnaire examines the effects of the group or individual works on students in terms of; studying systematically, allocated time for study, encouraging to research, discovering the creativity and improvement of designing skills and knowledge. Whereas the evaluation criteria were determined to evaluate the quality of the students' works by professionals/academicians with focusing on creativity, innovation, ergonomics, technical solutions and aesthetics. The questionnaire carried out on 20 students who are attended the Furniture Design course and submit the both of the term projects. Besides, the student projects are evaluated by a group of professionals and academicians, according to the previously determined criteria. The purpose of this paper is to examine and reveal the effectiveness of group studies and individual studies in design education in terms of obtained knowledge and learning experiences of students by investigating students' individual experiences of design process and professionals' evaluations on the students' works. As a result of the study, few students rejected the group work and it is observed that there was no dramatic difference between the students who found the group work as efficient and the students who found the individual work as efficient, but according to the evaluation made by the professionals and academicians, it was revealed that the group works got higher scores according to the design evaluation criteria.
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