Towards a Pedagogical Model Applying Commedia dell’Arte and Art Workshops in Higher Education Design Studies

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This study introduces a pedagogical model: “the parallel co-inquiry cycles with performative inquiry for character related design” for higher education design studies that focus on characterization. The disciplines benefitting from cross-fertilization provided by the model include game design, fashion design, graphic design, theatre, and actor’s art. Besides the model, the article discusses curriculum integration of a shared thematic denominator Commedia dell’Arte in higher education design studies. The model synthesizes progressive inquiry, drama pedagogical methodologies, and theories on theater with hands-on art workshops to create tangible and digital knowledge vessels for characterization. The research design relies on parallel co-inquiry cycles, participatory ethnography with elements from participatory design tradition. The model identifies three major components within the single 3E-inquiry cycles, namely exercise, experiment and experience. The entire process acquires complexity as each single inquiry cycle enters the next loop of Observe–Plan–Act–Reflect and more time and resources are allocated to the process. The pattern of action and reflection has an iterative cycle format in this model. Reflection has two distinguished purposes: first, to internalize reflective design and to become a reflective practitioner. Second, to see the importance of reflection as distancing oneself from the current process, to allow a reflective mind to linger on the process and learn from mistakes to turn them into assets. Reflection as a metacognitive skill has an all-encompassing purpose in both design and learning processes. The model distinguishes two types of knowledge vessels. Knowledge objects are abstractions that condense knowledge in the co-design process, whereas knowledge artifacts are concrete items, such as masks, outfits, and accessories in both digital and tangible formats. The model connects maker-culture, practice-based inquiry, and performative inquiry in the inquiry cycles. The drama method with performative inquiry acknowledges shared knowledge building in a collaborative, dialogical inquiry that fosters both argumentative and reflection skills.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20220199
Number of pages19
JournalOpen Education Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Commedia dell’Arte
  • curriculum development
  • design studies
  • pedagogical model
  • performative inquiry
  • progressive inquiry


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