‘I participate, therefore I learn’:

A process of co-creative graduate supervision in design research in Cape Town

  • Alettia V Chisin
  • Mugendi K M’Rithaa
Keywords: Collective learning, Design Research Activities Workgroup (DRAW), empathy, openness, postgraduate supervision


Changing pedagogical contexts require a responsive attitude with regard to design research supervision. This article elaborates on experiences and lessons learnt through a co-creative approach to supervision, which draws on an empathic understanding of members in a learning space at a higher education institution in Cape Town. The Design Research Activities Workgroup (DRAW) was initiated in 2009, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), to support postgraduate students within the design departments and to improve supervision capacity. It embraces a collective learning approach while critically re-interpreting the interaction between supervisors and postgraduate students. A narrative methodology and an interpretivist position were adopted to examine and describe the value and meaning of the DRAW forum to participants. A significant finding that emerged from the study is that the co-creative, group supervision approach to design research breaks down power differentials and enhances both the supervisor and student learning experiences in a specific community of practice.