'Shaping Things': Design Fiction as a catalyst for design in design and technology education

Dawne Irving-Bell, Matt McLain, David Wooff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Inspired originally by the work of Bruce Sterling, this paper presents narrative accounts from experienced design and technology teachers who were introduced to the notion of ‘design fiction’ during their teacher education programmes.

While training to teach as part of their subject study, pre-service teachers were introduced to the concept of ‘design fiction’. During their training they were encouraged to embrace the notion and use it as a catalyst to effect innovative pedagogical approaches in their teaching of design and technology.
Specifically, to explore the advantages of using this concept as a tool not only on the effectual delivery of design, but in order to support the creation of a high-quality conceptual outcomes, where learning is concerned with innovation and the development of skill, rather than to produce a fully functional working model or artefact.

Presented in the form of vignettes, participants (who are now experienced teachers) offer first-hand accounts of the long-term influence that using ‘design fiction’ as a catalyst for teaching design and technology has had on their classroom practice.

Participants report how this approach has supported the consolidation of learning, reinforcing skills, knowledge and understanding. Findings also make clear that through the adoption of design fiction teachers witnessed an increase in student motivation to engage in design activity, and notably when working within traditionally gender dominated areas of the design and technology and STEM curricula, gender bias decreased.

The paper concludes with potential next steps, including the advocation of staff development to ensure advances within the field of speculative design are capitalised upon by those engaged in all aspects of technology and design education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAustralasian Journal of Technology Education
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022


  • Design Fiction
  • design and technology education
  • Learning
  • Teaching


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