Supporting students’ self-directed experiences of studio learning in Communication Design: The co-creation of a participatory methods process model

Lorraine Marshalsey, Madeleine Sclater


This interdisciplinary paper discusses the meaning of open, critical, communal, and discursive learning spaces in higher education. It draws on recent research (Marshalsey, 2017) that illuminates the relationship between sensory affect and learning in studio education. It focuses on the extension and development of new learning configurations in the design studio, augmented by technology enhanced learning. Sensory affect is a form of feedback that can be used by learners to analyse and interpret the impact of the learning environment around them. This study used sensory affect as a lens through which to understand students’ experiences of practice-based learning in Communication Design spaces in two distinct higher education settings in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The evolution of specialist design studio learning spaces, from physical studios to a blend of virtual and online educational environments, has led to significant debate about how to design, use and evaluate learning spaces for practice-based design disciplines. The paper uses the methods process model, based on participatory design tools (Marshalsey, 2017; Sanders & Stappers, 2008). The MPM supports students and educators to qualitatively interpret and critique their learning spaces more explicitly within their design education.


Communication Design; sensory affect; studio education; learning spaces; case study; Participatory Action Research (PAR); Participatory Design (PD); ethnography

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