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Evaluation Report -

Dr. John Raciti BA, Hon.DA, FRSA

Question: What makes a design experience successful?

The Context

To know what makes a design experience successful – you must define what the
concept of design experience or practice is? One must differentiate what is
successful or unsuccessful, a failure. Schon would say unsuccessful was ill
structured – then to have a successful outcome – a structure strategy is needed
in the design experience.

Schon believed that the basic concept of design was a framework of meaning,
experimentation – that had three implications: the first was that design can be
only be learnt through practical processes of frame experimentation – where
new meaning is discovered – through experimentation between teacher and
student – reflection-in-action within the lesson itself, the second way in a holistic
way where the practitioner works towards a pattern, a coherent order, making
sense - meaning of their of their surroundings and all of the key areas of a
situation, the third way is through: the act of designing (Waks, 2001). It is from this
basic concept of design was a framework of meaning, controlled
experimentation – that we make logical sense and it’s own criteria of what is
successful or what is a failure in design experience (Newton, 2001).

Yinger felt that teachers should posses the ability to write reflectively although
the teaching profession is oral; writing can be a means of personal learning and
development towards a successful teaching experience (Yinger, 1981).

Reflective writing has been a personal facilitative tool – that has helped my
teaching and has helped me to become a life-long student in my professional
development (Clark, 1981). ‘Ancora Imparto’ – I am still learning, as student in
design – that has continued to improve in the procedure of teaching in practice
(Dewey, 1904). Learning is an action that occurs through the process of
acquiring knowledge through experience. Practice is the process of doing, to
act upon, or perform a task on a regular basis until it is learnt through experience
and gained as knowledge for next time it is used.

I consider myself an expert designer and educator, who has developed and
acquired a deeper set of guiding principles in practice. These guiding principles
have provided me with an approach or a set of values I can work by. This body
of work I have experienced and completed over the years in design firms and in
education – has led me to specialised expertise through design practice
(Lawson and Dorst, 2005/6).

Purpose of an evaluation:

The purpose of an evaluation is to find value from different sources of

information from a variety of theorists in our Subject Readers and from other
colleagues in the Reflective Practice subject at UTS. It is about considering their
philosophies –using a mixture of their reasons, my own opinions in understanding
the design processes in social surroundings, and how the use and limitations of
knowledge and the principles that govern and influence our moral judgment.

Schon stated that there are three ways of acquiring knowledge-in-action:

through self-instruction, apprenticeship – learning ‘on-line’ in ‘real world’ context
and the standard way of acquiring knowledge-in-action is through ‘practicum’.
Practicum is an ‘off-line’ situation that estimates the world of practice – in much
the same way as an education system does at university in my case. I have a
supervisor (master practitioner) in practice that serves as my teacher that
observes my performance in the ‘virtual world’ where I go through a series of
standard problems, tests in action (Waks, 2001) – which we call artistry (Schon,

Schon contributed to a concept of ‘know-how’ consisting with rules or plans that

we as practitioners entertain in our minds before we act upon situations. This is a
kind of knowing-in-action that is a spontaneous behaviour – which I may
experience while I am teaching in practice – it is a type of knowing that doesn’t
come from previous learned action (Schon, 1983). Polanyi saw this type of
knowing as ‘tacit’ knowledge not in an abstract way but learnt in use, through
practice (Waks, 2001). You also need to take into account Argyris’s Espoused
theory where our social surroundings views and values a person’s belief that
follows in their own behaviour. Whereas: Theory-in-use is about the world, our
social surroundings views and values that are implied by the individual’s actual
behaviour. We are blinded by the gap between what we think we believe and
the values implied by our behaviour. This is probably why Newton had felt that
reflecting-in-action fails – due to what I would call gap-perception between an
individual belief, values implied by behaviour and the other side of the
perception of how others see us performing in design problems.

My Colleagues Design Experience:

Taking aboard new opportunities, gaining new experiences and making the
most of the situation. Gaining an insight to theories and tools to use in practice -
to help with the outcome of problems faced in the work place in action. It’s
about reflecting on past events and by coming up with new strategies to help
plan future outcomes on the job. It is seeking for a rewarding experience, a
successful experience at work. This would in turn help with the performance at
work, assisting with coping on the job.

The patterns are - having this fear of failure - and not being able to succeed.
Taking a risk - and not being able to pull it off. Feeling like a failure and being a
failure are two different things. Like wanting to be and just be are two different
perspectives. Having a goal and achieving that goal or not - it's the intention of
seeking to becoming a better designer. It's down to your motive at the time.

You need confidence and having the belief of a realistic goal that can be
achievable. Then the intention is met for it to be a success.

You need to identify the problem before you can assess it and deconstruct the

Planning, preparation, and time management - these activities are important in

getting a result. You could be doing this on a subconscious level, but then are
aware of them - when you put these skills to use.

The main reasons for feeling different from my colleagues were – being able to
understand the situation. I felt that my colleagues were not able to express their
negative experiences easily – but then seeing a good situation – coming out of
a bad situation – through talking to the group. One of my colleagues wasn’t
able to convey his situation well class. You do need to be able to do that – so
you can evaluate problems you face at work – so you can improve on them
and use that knowledge in practice – utilising the theory into practice.

The key aspects of my successful design situation are – noting my pass

experiences, my current position through the skills and knowledge I have
developed over time. I am taking advice from others that have experienced
success design in practice. You need to be open to new philosophy on design
and try those theories and techniques to gain an insight to improving current
design experiences. I am creating opportunities on the job to prove whether or
not the reflective theories actual work. They did. I have been able to apply the
theories in class this week with my students at CQU – to improve a better
outcome. It has created a better communicative relationship amongst staff and
students – using the double loop learning approach.


The most important thing I have learned through the classes is to learn tools that
I could use in action on the job. I have learnt how to think on the spot and plan
successful outcomes. These tools can be used to improve productivity in the
classroom – where students and staff can gain an insight to unlocking their fullest

The professional development activities I should be seeking are more workshops

from the Learning and Teaching unit – where they run sessions from staff where
we can role-play some of our problems in front of other lecturers – that creates
opportunities for further discussions on how to handle certain situations in class.
At these workshops I am like other staff able to voice our options about
assessment issues that may arise during the marking periods. It is important to
have opportunities to speak and to listen to issues that many staff face on a
daily basis – and to be able to use their strategies is a bonus – you can integrate
into your teaching plan each lesson.

Recommendations and follow-up actions:

Learning Reflective Practice has helped me to come to terms with how I am

involved with the design processes. The theories I studied to date in class – have
shown to be helpful tools I can use in practice when I am teaching, assessing
and working with people in a group activity. These action strategies help me
notice differences in the design process, to help develop and evaluate ideas I
may use in action, the ability to question, and change my approach when
designing. During class group activities we have had the opportunity to share
each other’s opinions on what is successful design experience. From these
gatherings I have been able to find patterns in what my colleagues and what
theorist concepts are on the structure of the design processes and how we can
improve on outcomes through our actions. Through reading and reflective
writing – I have been able to gain power in my own actions. I have not been
able to do that very well. Understanding the logic behind the theories of
behavioural and attitudinal change has opened a stronger and my wiser me –
that can use this information to achieve more goals in my career. Using this
reflective approach in my life and in my career as giving me a sense of
understanding of what it is that I do and how I can improve this design process
and use it in the workplace – utilising the theories in practice.


Argyris, C. and Schon, D. A. 1974, ‘Chapter 1: Theories on Action’, in Theory in

Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness, Jossey-Bass Publications, San
Francisco, USA, pp. 19.

Dick, B. and Dalmau, T. 1990, ‘Introduction and Part 1: The elements of the
model’, in Values in action: Applying the ideas of Argyris and Schon,
Interchange, Chapel Hill, Queensland, Australia, pp. 10-11, pp. 19.
Lawson, B and Dorst, K. (Forthcoming in 2005/06), ‘Acquiring Design Expertise’,
pp. 9.

Newton, S. 2001, (unpublished paper) ‘A Review of Donald Schon’s Reflection-

in-action’, School of Communication, Design and Media, University of Western
Sydney, Australia, pp. 6, pp. 13.

Schon, Donald, A. 1983, ‘Professional Knowledge and Reflection-in-action from

Technical Rationality to Reflection-in-action’ in The Reflective Practitioner: How
professionals think in action, Basic Books, New York, USA, pp. 51.

Waks, L. J. 2001, ‘Donald Schon’s Philosophy of Design and Design Education’,

International Journal of Technology and Design Education, vol. 11, pp. 42, pp.
44-45, pp. 47.

Yinger, Robert J. and Clark, Christopher M. 1981, ‘Occasional Paper No. 50’ in
Reflective Journal Writing: Theory and Practice, The Institute for Research on
Teaching, Michigan State University, USA, pp. 17-18, pp. 29.

Online References:

Microsoft Network Encarta: Online Encyclopaedia, Dictionary, Atlas, and


Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

Collins Word Exchange - Collins Word Exchange - Online Dictionary

Online Etymology Dictionary