Interior Design Program


Date of this Version

Summer 2011


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Betsy S. Gabb. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2011

Copyright 2011 Deborah Rushen Dunlap


Educators’ perceptions influence academic protocols regarding the level at which evidence-based design is introduced to design students. Evidence-based design, a research methodology based on quantitative and qualitative inquiry that informs design decisions, permeated healthcare design to the point that the two are almost synonymous (Hamilton & Watkins, 2009; Nussbaumer, 2009). As this research based approach spreads throughout the profession, multiple specialty areas in architecture and interior design adopt evidence-based design into their methodologies (Hamilton & Watkins, 2009). These “developments in design practice now impinge directly upon education” (Zuo, Leonard, & MaloneBeach, 2010, p. 269). Teaching evidence-based design to design students prepares entry-level designers for the workplace (Nussbaumer, 2009).

This research study explores and explains educator perceptions about teaching evidence-based design to beginning design students through surveys administered to National Conference on the Beginning Design Student 2011 attendees and Interior Design Educators Council members. Results showed numerous views. Those in favor of introducing evidence-based design to beginning design students present the method along with the design process. These educators believe evidence-based design forms a basis for design and is an important research/design methodology. Educators against introducing evidence-based design to beginning design students believe the method requires too much information to cover at the beginning level and stifles creativity. Other educators either had little knowledge or were unaware of evidence-based design.

Most educators surveyed teach human factors, ergonomics, anthropometrics, and Proxemics, but are not aware that evidence-based design includes these topics. Many state they have no plans to incorporate evidence-based design into their beginning design courses because it is taught in upper-level courses. Educators conveyed openness toward introducing evidence-based design to beginning design students, especially if proven beneficial to the students. Most educators rely on colleagues and teaching publications to learn about evidence-based design. Overall, educators perceive the most significant factor regarding future introduction of evidence-based design to beginning design students to be faculty related. This research acknowledged limitations and future research directions.