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Title: Facilitation of design students' tacit knowledge construction: an interpretive research in interior design studios
Authors: Venkatesh, Aruna
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: Through the course of their careers, designers build a repertoire of knowledge and expertise. Most of this vast storehouse is transformed into tacit knowledge over a period of time. So much so that it gets embedded into their work and becomes their inherent style. It is this intrinsic nature of tacit knowledge that makes it difficult to articulate. The transmission, communication and acquisition of tacit knowledge are challenging aspects of design education for tutors and educators. Studies have shown that its acquisition is far more complex than is possible by the traditional approach of hands-on learning. Spatial understanding as a component of tacit knowledge in interior design is an area that has not been thoroughly investigated. This explorative research aims to study the processes of its acquisition by interior design students in the context of the interior design studio. Constructivist theories are applied to obtain a holistic understanding of tacit knowledge construction from three perspectives: teaching, learning, and studio interactions. The position of design as a dialogue and Donald Schön's Reflective Practice theory serve as a basis for the inquiry. The School of Design's Environment and Interior Design (BA) programme, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, was chosen as a case study for this interpretive research. Eight students and respective tutors across the studios from all the years were keenly observed and interviewed over a period of two years. Findings were interpreted and synthesised into themes that provide insights into how tacit knowledge construction is facilitated in the interior design studio. A key linkage that emerged from the themes was the role of critical conversations in the facilitation of tacit knowledge. Critical conversations are the premises for developing tacit abilities such as design sensibilities, constructing meaning, and creating new value judgments. Tacit knowledge is both explicated and articulated through critical conversations. It is proposed that critical conversations should be used as a pedagogical tool for tacit knowledge construction. The themes were developed into criteria for facilitating and acquiring tacit knowledge, contributing to a reference framework for design students and tutors. Recommendations are offered to educators that serve as guidelines to enhance the construction of tacit knowledge in the studio. The above contributions of the study can be applied to other design disciplines. The acquisition of tacit knowledge transforms students into efficient learners and enhances their capabilities as future innovators. Tacit knowledge, therefore, needs to be a key element of design education. Changing connotations of interior space and extensions of the studio into the virtual realm provoke new discussions of tacit knowledge in the pedagogy and praxis of interior design. The synergies between the physical and virtual infuse new dynamics in the studio environment. These extended dimensions broaden discussions of tacit knowledge in design education, suggesting implications and future directions for the study.
Subjects: Design -- Study and teaching
Interior decoration -- Study and teaching
Tacit knowledge
Knowledge management
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xiv, 332 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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