Abstract: Place-based learning experiences in Design and Technologies education connect people and place with design processes and products. Drawing on place-based learning, this case study shares the experiences of eight final year pre-service Design and Technologies education students from the University of South Australia as they collaborated with in-service teachers and learners within a secondary special education setting.
This study reports on the design and development processes that pre-service teachers adopted to produce a sensory teaching resource to stimulate interaction, coordination and fine motor skills for students with diverse learning needs. Qualitative data, incorporating a survey and group design folio, were collected from pre-service teachers to capture how design based decisions were influenced through place-based experiences.
Findings suggest that place-based learning facilitated opportunities for meaningful educational and social connections between people and communities. Through engagement in an authentic special education context, place-based experiences enabled pre-service teachers to develop an enhanced sense of civic responsibility and valuing of communities and citizens at a local level. Importantly, engagement in place-based learning scaffolded a deeper and richer understanding of the role that education can play in supporting individuals and communities to create preferred futures.
This study suggests that higher education place-based learning experiences are valuable in providing opportunities for Design and Technologies preservice teachers to foster knowledge, awareness and understanding of the relationship between design processes and products and the needs of people and place.