Aruna Venkatesh - PhD. Design Education

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Design Education Researcher

Aruna Venkatesh 


Research Title

Facilitation of Design Students' Tacit Knowledge Construction: An Interpretive Research in Interior Design Studios


Tacit knowledge, knowledge construction, design studio pedagogy

Research Abstract

Tacit knowledge, as it is well-known, is inherent and embedded in the act of design. Yet, it is this intrinsic nature that makes it challenging to articulate and acquire in design education. Spatial understanding as a component of tacit knowledge in interior design is an area that is not fully investigated. The explorative research aimed to study interior design students’ process of tacit knowledge acquisition in the context of the interior design studio.  Constructivist theories were applied to obtain a holistic understanding of tacit knowledge construction through three perspectives of teaching, learning and studio interactions. The position of design as a dialogue and Donald Schön’s Reflective Practice theory served as a basis for the inquiry.

Research Methodology and Results/ Outcomes

The Environment and Interior Design (BA) programme of the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University was chosen as a case study for the interpretive research. Eight students and respective tutors across the studios from all the years were extensively observed and interviewed for two years. Supporting data collection methods included focus group interviews, experience sampling and document & material analyses. Data were collected in four stages with concurrent data analyses at each stage.

The study has generated a working definition and criteria for tacit knowledge construction. Insights and outcomes from the study contributed towards suggesting a framework and recommendations for the facilitation of tacit knowledge construction in the studio.

Key publications

Venkatesh, A. and Ma, Henry. (2021). Tacit Knowledge Construction in Studio-based Learning: A Conceptual Framework. The International Journal of Design Education, 16(1), 37-53.

Venkatesh, A. and Ma, Henry. (2021). Critical conversations as a tool for students’ tacit knowledge construction: An interpretive research in interior design studio interactions. International Journal of Educational Research Open. 2(2), 1-10.

Venkatesh, A. (2021). Facilitating Tacit Knowledge Construction: Re-Examining Boundaries of the Design Studio Environment. Cubic Journal. 4(4), 122–127.

Venkatesh, A. (2021). Facilitation of Design Students' Tacit Knowledge Construction: An Interpretive Research in Interior Design Studios. (Doctoral dissertation). The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.

Venkatesh, A., & Ma, H. (2019). Tacit Learning in an Extended Interior Design Studio. Proceedings of the DRS Learn X Design 2019: Insider Knowledge, Fifth International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Middle East Technical University Ankara, Turkey.

Venkatesh, A. (2013). A Study on the Revelations of Design Students’ Thinking Styles in Reflective Journals. VISIBLE LANGUAGE, 47(2), 1-36.


G.D. Arch, Academy of Architecture, Rachna Sansad, Mumbai, India
MDes (Design Education), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University        PhD, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University 

Dr. Henry Ma (Chief Supervisor)
Dr. Sandy Ng (Co-supervisor)

Specialisation / Interests
Design research, design education, design thinking, interior design, blended learning

Date of PhD award
September 2021