Yang Zhang Thesis.pdf (62.46 MB)

Metacognition and knowledge application: an empirical study in product design education

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posted on 26.06.2019 by Yang Zhang
The relationship between creativity and knowledge has been a debated topic in creativity and design research. Current studies have made a great effort to emphasise the significance to creativity of a specific type of knowledge, e.g. domain-specific/general, rather than interpreting their application, i.e. how they are used. That is, there is still a lack of studies to investigate the ways in which knowledge and skills within or across domains are actually used, since Christiaans and Venselaar (2005) have claimed. The lack of a performance-based measurement of creativity probably renders it difficult to ascertain whether a specific knowledge item is related to a specific creative performance. Moreover, the methodologies applied by current studies to design knowledge and creativity were based on qualitative approaches drawn from data collected from a single school in one country, ignoring the importance of the cultural context.

This thesis is supported by an investigation of a creativity-relevant construct that connects to knowledge application within the context of Product Design Education. The principal creativity-relevant construct is identified as metacognition: this identification was achieved by conducting a literature survey focusing on creativity research, which is linked to creative thinking, according to current understanding of applied knowledge, and is thought to predict creative performance. Different kinds of knowledge applied in product design students’ final-year design projects (FYDPs) have been assembled and arranged into three categories. An empirical study was conducted in the form of a survey to examine the relationship between metacognition and the frequency of applying each kind of knowledge in the process of the FYDP. Cultural factors were also considered in this study based on 375 samples collected from China (228 samples) and the UK (147 samples), representing Western and Eastern cultures.

The findings identified the shared and different frequencies of applying subject-related knowledge among students with different levels of creative thinking ability. The thesis proposes five aspects of subject-related knowledge, including product-oriented, reflection-facilitating, socio-cultural environment related, conceptual-process related, and cross-disciplinary knowledge. The data indicates that product-oriented, reflection-facilitating, and socio-cultural environment related knowledge are frequently applied by students who reported higher metacognition scores. The main contribution to knowledge made through this thesis is towards design education research, where these findings may inform and extend academic support for design tutors and students to improve the FYDP process and offer further insights into China’s design education.





Loughborough University

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© Yang Zhang

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.




Erik Bohemia ; John McCardle

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