“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a purpose.” – Charles Eames
One of the problems we have currently in school is the way projects are handled. Students are handed a sheet of instructions and a rubric and told to go create the assignment. They dutifully make sure their project meets the criteria for the score they want, and they don’t give it a second thought. (Truthfully, they don’t give it much of a first thought, either.) If you ask the average student why they decided to do something in a certain way on that project, they shrug and mumble, “I don’t know. ‘Cause the directions/rubric said to?”
And we wonder why they struggle to organize a project, in school or out.
As the quote above says, design is creating with purpose. It’s making decisions about your work, and understanding why you made that decision. What question or problem are you really addressing? What options did you consider? What causes and effects did you think about? What outside forces affected your decision? What skills and materials are best suited to this project, and what do you hope to learn or come away with from this project?
It takes a lot of thinking and even more decision making to put together a well-designed project, but students are capable of it when coached on how to get thinking this way.