Learning by doing

Study method

This page describes the study method of the core courses of the Interaction Design programme at IUAV University of Venice.


The most important abilities and knowledge learnt at university are learnt from other students and their work, not teachers. And abilities and knowledge are most intensely developed through action. So the Interaction Design core courses emphasise learning-by-doing, teamwork, and mutual critique:

• During most Theory classes, students are asked to do practical exercises in teams. Each student is also asked to complete an individual weekly homework assignment; they are strongly advised to keep copies of your exercises and assignments because these may be useful in the final examination

• The Lab courses comprise one or more design projects, some of which may be done in teams, and occasional specialist workshops by guest teachers

• Work for Theory exercises and assignments, and Lab design work-in-progress, are discussed at regular crits’ (short for ‘critiques’): students explain their work to the other students and receive their comments.

Lab students are expected to design together in their studio throughout the week. Learning from other students happens best when they design and talk together in the same space—frequently, intensively and generously. From this, there gradually emerges a social chemistry, a design ethos, and a shared wealth of skills and ideas. In this atmosphere, philosophies and designs develop faster and in more interesting and unpredictable ways.


The core course study method only works if students attend throughout the course. So Theory students must regularly attend the core Theory courses on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Lab students must attend 14.30–18.30 every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, even when no teacher is present. Students must not register for any other course at the same time.

The Department’s regulations say that students who attend less than 67% of a course’s lessons cannot take its exam. Attendance is recorded on the course’s attendance register (rilevamento presenze studenti) which Theory students must sign after each lesson, and Lab students must sign every afternoon when a teacher attends. If they are absent through illness, students must email Philip Tabor – who tries, but does not guarantee, to warn a student whose attendance falls to 60% or below.


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This website concerns aspects of Gillian Crampton Smith and Philip Tabor’s interaction design courses. But it is not necessarily a comprehensive, correct or updated description of IUAV University and its activities, requirements and procedures. On all such matters readers should take IUAV’s administrative staff and official website as their most reliable sources of information.