Enhancing Learner Performance in Design Education for Disadvantaged Students



Design Education Strategy


  • curriculum, cultural influence, vulnerable groups


Participation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in South African higher education has been below acceptable levels and recent reports indicate that it is still in decline. Much has been discussed about the link of under-preparedness to poor performance of students. However not much has been discussed about under-preparedness of universities curricula for teaching an evolving student population in the design disciplines.

This paper explores the implications of an increasingly diverse student body for curricula of design disciplines in higher education institutions. The paper uses the University of Johannesburg’s jewellery and architecture programmes to discuss curriculum change that has the capacity to enhance performance of students. The paper argues that student background can be used to develop responsive curriculum which contributes to effective learning for students in design disciplines - jewellery and architecture. The paper suggests a curriculum framework, based on students’ spatial origins, to developed teaching and learning practices that would enhance student performance and chances for success in their studies.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (https://www.defsa.org.za/imagine).