Part of the
Centre for
Engineering Education
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Centre for
Engineering Education


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Project introduction and background information

Teaching physical design skills has long been the main building block of the bachelor curriculums at the TU Delft faculties of Industrial Design Engineering and Architecture & the Built Environment. We observe that our undergraduate students achieve high level (design) competencies during their study time at TU Delft. But we also observe that design education too often goes together with over-aroused students and (over)ambitious teachers, leading to higher levels of student stress. It goes without saying that this results in (the threat of) underperforming students, increased levels of student drop outs, and increased levels of student burn outs. This project contributes directly to the TUD agenda on study climate and student well-being, in which the executive board is looking for strategies to create both an ambitious and (mentally, physically and socially) healthy learning environment for students.

Objective and expected outcomes

We aim to better understand the spheres of influence in design education, so that we as communities of students and teachers can better deal with these circumstances and avoid unnecessary stress for design students in the future. In particular we explore issues of personal leadership, feedback and communication strategies, design pedagogies, community building, and the social and physical (studio!) learning environment.

Results and learnings

It is easier said than done to (re)develop healthy challenging design education. Stress is something that works differently for different people, and some levels of stress are actually needed to perform well. The most important thing might be to have a well-augmented and well-supported โ€˜vehicleโ€™ โ€“ our models โ€“ to talk about this sensitive topic with design students, design tutors, and design project coordinators. The three models we co-created with our project team consists of [i] our view on the characteristics of design education from a wellbeing point of view, [ii] our Spheres of Influence in Design Education model, and [iii] our G-model that gives students and staff a way how to discuss and make decisions in stressful circumstances.

Practical outcomes

The project produced two booklets (in Dutch):

  • Gezond Uitdagend Ontwerponderwijs โ€“ Ervaringen vanuit TU Delft: Bouwkunde en Industrieel Ontwerpen. This book not only presents our models, but also a large set of experiences in the format of short stories written by our students, teachers, and study advisors. Additionally, we apply our models to those stories to show how students and teachers could more or less constructively go forward in stressful situations. This book is meant for (our) design education practice; both for students and teachers.
  • ย Addendum Gezond Uitdagend Ontwerponderwijs โ€“ Over zelfsturing en effectief gedrag. This addendum gives more theoretical underpinning of the project.

The project has also been presented at the CDIO conference 2022 (the proceeding can be found on the right in the download section). In the IDE and ABE faculties the project leaders discuss how our knowledge and book can/will be shared and discussed with our bachelor teaching and learning communities.