Speaker: Sarah Matthews
Host: Professor Janet Wiles

Seminar Type:  PhD Thesis Review


The purpose of this work is to generate principles for the design of tangible technologies that can support students in developing creative skills in a classroom environment. Creativity is seen as an important skill in the development of primary school students, and one that promises future social benefit. However, research to date has not focused on the ways tangible technologies can support students' creative skill development in open-ended activities such as design. Tangible technology kits have been used for many other purposes in classrooms, and have been shown to provide opportunities for students to learn technical skills, as well as supporting students to undertake prototyping activities in a design process. Current research has shown that tangible technologies can provide unique opportunities for constructivist learning and has detailed how tangibles can broadly support children's developing designerly abilities, but there remains work to do with respect to how thes!

The kits can support creative skills. This thesis reports on the practices of students undertaking a design process with tangible technologies, analysing these through the frame of creative skill development. This analysis has provided a platform for a design intervention, which has been deployed and analysed in a school. Four types of contributions are advanced: design principles for technologies to better serve as creative materials; a creative skill-building orientation to the analysis of interactions with technologies and to inform design; novel methods of analysis; and a design intervention. Each of these contributions will be elaborated.


Sarah Matthews is an industrial designer, design educator and PhD student in ITEE. She has fifteen years' experience teaching design in graduate and postgraduate programs at universities in Australia and Denmark, and running design training workshops in industry. Her research focuses on the intersections of creativity and technology in primary education, looking at ways that technologies can be better designed to become a medium for children to explore open-ended problem spaces.

This seminar is for her PhD thesis milestone.