Comparing academics and practitioners Q & A tutoring in the engineering design studio

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Hurst, Ada (1); Lin, Shirley (1); Treacy, Claire (1); Nespoli, Oscar G. (1); Gero, John S. (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of Waterloo; 2: University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 0997-1006
DOI number:


In the design studio, academic (professor) and practitioner tutors provide individual mentoring to students as they progress in their design projects. Prior studies suggest that design practitioners may follow a different design process compared to academics, but little is known about how this difference relates to their design tutoring. This study explores the similarities and differences in tutoring by academics and practitioners. We use a question-asking lens to characterize the tutoring styles of four tutors - two academics and two practitioners - over a five-week design project in an engineering design studio. We find that academic tutors ask questions at a significantly higher rate than practitioner tutors, suggesting a more question-centred tutoring style. We also find that proportionally more of practitioner tutors’ questions are generative in nature, while the academic tutors employ more convergent thinking in their questioning. This may be an indicator of the practitioners' own design thinking, which might be more solution-focused than that of academics. These preliminary findings motivate future investigations of the relationship between differences in tutoring and impact on student design learning.

Keywords: Design learning, Design cognition, Design practice, Design studio, Question asking

Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Privacy Policy.