Designing learning outcomes in design higher education curricula

Diana Soares, Paula Carvalho, Diana Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


New and flexible educational paradigms, based on creative, innovative and open-minded competences, are required in the development of curricula in design, working as an essential skill toolkit for future designers, particularly in higher education. This study aims to explore how learning outcomes, usually expressed by the knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and competences expected to be achieved by students as a result of an educational experience, are defined and formulated in design study programmes in Portugal. The investigation relies on the linguistic analysis of a corpus composed of a collection of learning outcomes extracted from the Portuguese undergraduate and post-graduate study programmes in design. The analysis was performed through the application of natural language tools and resources to that corpus. Specifically, we used computational lexicons and grammars to gather information on word frequency, lexical density, syntactic distribution and the morphology used in texts. Additional discourse dimensions, such as the length of sentences, the frequency of specific linguistic patterns, and the presence of subjective items, like evaluative adjectives, were also considered. Results suggest that Portuguese design and art higher education institutions are committed to follow the learning outcomes recommendations, trying to identify measurable ‘design’ skills. Moreover, the results show that, despite of being confined to 1,000 characters, learning outcomes are expressed differently, both in terms of lexicon and grammar, depending on the study cycles, fostering the idea that skills and competences required become more complex as the level of qualification increases.
Original languagePortuguese
Pages (from-to)392-404
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Art and Design Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Corpus linguistics
  • Design education
  • Learning outcomes
  • Natural language processing

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