Enquiry-based learning
Founded Project

Designing enquiry-based learning in visual communication with a design thinking approach

Total funding 120K HKD

Project objectives

To develop a learner-centred visual communication subject with enquiry-based learning and the flipped classroom approach.


The School of Design (SD) will be launching a new curriculum in the next cohort as one of its aims is to increase interdisciplinary capacity in design-led innovation and it is vital that students gain knowledge in communication in order to be prepared to engage with different complex problems. SD1103 Communication Basics for Designers used to be a subject that serve for the needs of students to communicate concept graphicly and visually, in which some essential design application such as Adobe suite will be introduce during the class. However, after many years of teaching, our project team has realised that students acquire applied skills based on the needs of their projects and they can easily find answers from the internet, this keeps students not engaging in learning in the classroom. Therefore, if we teach these skills in advance and in a linear sequence, this is not effective and it wastes class time.

By adapting an enquiry-based learning and flipped classroom approach, our project team can have the resources to prepare “problem-based projects” for students to work on. In addition, we can pre-arrange relevant skills for them to query during non-class time. In this case, students can have more time to look up skills for their specific projects and instructors can have more time to give advice and help them solve the problems they encounter.

In order to develop more effective content for students, bringing human-centred design into design education can help shape the experience of learning and teaching. Learner-centred curriculum design means giving learners the power to shape their own education through choice. It has similar to the nature of enquiry-based learning and the concept of human-centred design. The design thinking process will therefore be used in the research phase of this project, which will also be a first attempt for the visual communication discipline.

5 stages of the design thinking process are incorporated into the development of enquiry-based learning

Mr. Clive Ng specialising in information design and design education will respond for implementing and monitoring the project and the Mr. Edmund Chan specialising in photography and imaging will respond for workshop video. A part-time project assistant should be specialising in enquiry-based learning. He or she will share the responsibility of develop contents of the PDP and leading four student participants conduct in-depth studies of threshold concepts and knowledge in the realm of visual communication.

Intended learning outcomes for students

By incorporating problem-based projects (PDP) designed by the project team, it enables students to use a range of lecture and workshop videos from our initiatives and open platforms. With pre-structured learning materials, students can proactively develop their knowledge of visual communication under the guidance of a tutor. The materials produced will be rich in modes of communication and appeal to multiple senses in bringing out its contents. The project explores an alternative to lecture based model of teaching visual communication in the classroom. It is a step towards diversifying the teaching and learning strategies in design learning.

This project creates an opportunity for up to 20 design student assistants to engage in an in-depth study of threshold concepts and knowledge in the arena of visual communication. Through discussions and interviews with the project team, the student assistants and the first and second year design students, we can, on the one hand, optimise the teaching content. On the other hand, student assistants can use the experience of creating appreciation tasks as a way of giving knowledge transfer.

All students of BA Design with an interest in visual communication will be targeted for recruitment. The project will have an impact on participating students better learning performance and a higher level of learner satisfaction than those in other setting.

The learning content and project brief will be open to all design major and elective students via blackboard. More than 100 students in BA Design will be benefited from the project. All students taking the design courses will be subsequently benefited from the project through an improved understanding the skills in graphic communication through enquiry-based learning

The following intended learning outcomes of this project will be used to enhance existing subject learning outcomes:

Subject students

  • Be able to create questions though the process of developing PBP

  • Obtaining supporting evidence and skills to answer the briefing challenge

  • Connecting the explanation to the knowledge obtained from the investigative design process with PBP

  • Student assistants

  • Able to transfer their learning experience to teaching methods

Major outcomes and deliverables

  1. Problem-based project briefs (PBP)

  2. Graphic communication lectures videos by SD

  3. Photographic workshop videos by SD

  4. Reports on students’ performance in acquiring enquiry-based learning

  5. Small scale project exhibition

  6. Project booklet and website


Enquiry-based learning content (Lecture, workshop videos, learning resources) (EPL) and Problem-based project briefs (PDP) are core materials for learning and teaching. The production of relevant videos and project briefs will be developed in parallel. Development of the (Version 1: the project briefs and workshop videos) will start in early April and is expected to be available for interviews in May, with the first version forming part of the survey. The data and insights gained from the students will be incorporated into revised materials and PDP, (Version 2: the project brief and workshop video) which will be ready in June.

For the interview in June, in depth task-based interview will be carried out with 5 Second-year BA Design students. In July, our team will consolidate all the data, develop the final version of the materials (version 3: project brief and workshop video) and prepare the materials and plan for the demo lesson in August. As it will be considered as a pilot study and user testing, some pedagogical content and some content related to threshold concepts can be tested in this format in order to understand these issues before the launch in September.