In search of design principles for developing digital learning & performance support for a student design task

  • Lars Bollen University of Twente Department of Instructional Technology
  • Hans van der Meij University of Twente Department of Instructional Technology
  • Henny Leemkuil University of Twente Department of Instructional Technology
  • Susan McKenney University of Twente Department of Instructional Technology Open University of the Netherlands Welten Institute
Keywords: learning-by-designing, learning and performance support, post-secondary learning


A digital learning and performance support environment for university student design tasks was developed. We describe the design rationale, process, and the usage results to arrive at a core set of design principles for the construction of such an environment and present a collection of organisational, technical, and course-related requirements that led to the particular setup of the targeted environment. Building upon the established learning management system Moodle, we designed a backbone structure that fitted onto the analysis, synthesis, construction, and evaluation intervention model. Within these four phases, students were able to find activity checklists, tools, and information to support their design activities. The environment was supplemented with tools for group communication and collaborative report writing. It has been used for 5 weeks by 35 students who worked in groups on a design task. We analysed the students’ appraisals for usability and examined usage data from their action logs. Results indicate that students were positive about the environment and generally used its facilities frequently. The discussion revolves around the issue of how to achieve a balance between constraints, freedom, and scaffolding. A set of design principles is proposed for the construction of future versions of a learning and performance support environment.


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