Design Literacy in Chilean Curricula

Opportunity or Unfulfilled Promise?



Emneord (Nøkkelord):

design skills, visual analysis, technology subjects, visual art subject, heatmaps


The Chilean school curriculum shares with the design literacy approach the goal of forming responsible citizens committed to caring for the environment. Given that design is included as obligatory content of the visual arts and technology subjects in the first 10 years of compulsory education, we wonder if the learning objectives of visual arts and technology support the development of design literacy abilities, as outlined by Lutnæs and Cross. To address this question, we coded 119 learning objectives in alignment with Lutnæs’s and Cross’s design literacy abilities. Then, we generated heatmaps to undertake a visual analysis of the alignment between the learning objectives and design literacy categories. As a result, we found a strong convergence between the Cross and Lutnæs categories and technology learning objectives, especially in lower secondary level education. In the visual arts, design was focused on aesthetics, and connections with design literacy narratives were scarce. We propose that adopting the analytical instrument (coding table) as a standardised tool will encourage comparable studies of how well design literacy is incorporated into other national curricula.


Úrsula Bravo, Universidad del Desarrollo

Associate Professor

Erik Bohemia, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Dean of the International School of Design
Shandong University of Art & Design

Associate Professor, PhD
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Fernanda Saval, Universidad del Desarrollo

Designer and Technology School Teacher


Aflatoony, L., Wakkary, R. & Neustaedter, C. (2018). Becoming a Design Thinker: Assessing the Learning Process of Students in a Secondary Level Design Thinking Course. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 37(3), 438–453.

Archer, B. (1979). Design as a discipline. Design Studies, 1(1), 17–20.

Bravo, Ú. & Bohemia, E. (2020). Editorial. Alfabetización en Diseño para todos [Design literacy for all]. RChD: creación y pensamiento, 5(8), 1–10.

Bravo, Ú. & Bohemia, E. (2021). Design Process Models as Metaphors in Education Context. FormAkademisk, 14(4).

Carroll, M. (2015). Stretch, Dream, and Do - A 21st Century Design Thinking & STEM Journey. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 1(1), 59–70.

Carroll, M., Goldman, S., Britos, L., Koh, J., Royalty, A. & Hornstein, M. (2010). Destination, Imagination and the Fires Within: Design Thinking in a Middle School Classroom. Journal of Art and Design Education, 29(1), 37–53.

Christensen, K. S., Hjorth, M., Iversen, O. S. & Blikstein, P. (2016). Towards a formal assessment of design literacy: Analyzing K-12 students’ stance towards inquiry. Design Studies, 46, 125–151.

Cox, C. (2001). El currículum escolar del futuro [The school curriculum of the future]. Revista Perspectivas, 4(2), 213–232.

Cross, A. (1980). Design and general education. Design Studies, 1(4), 202–206.

Cross, N. (1982). Designerly ways of knowing. Design Studies, 3(4), 221–227.

Cross, N. (2006). Designerly Ways of Knowing. Springer.

Cross, N. (2013). Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work (2nd ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

Educar, E. (2021). Análisis y proyección de la dotación docente en Chile [Analysis and projection of teaching staff in Chile]. In Santiago, Chile: Elige Educar.

Elton, F., Espinosa, O. & Mena, F. (2006). Système éducatif et formation des enseignants au Chili [Educational system and training of teachers in Chile]. In J. Ginestié (Ed.), Système éducatif et formation des professeurs: au-delà des apparences, quelles différences?: une étude internationale sur la formation des enseignants en éducation technologique (pp. 63–77). EuropeAid Cooperation Office.

English, L. D., Hudson, P. B. & Dawes, L. (2012). Engineering design processes in seventh-grade classrooms: Bridging the engineering education gap. European Journal of Engineering Education, 37(5), 436–447.

Goldman, S. & Kabayadondo, Z. (2017). Taking Design Thinking to School: How the Technology of Design Can Transform Teachers, Learners, and Classrooms. Routledge.

Gomoll, A., Tolar, E., Hmelo-Silver, C. E. & Šabanović, S. (2018). Designing human-centered robots: The role of constructive failure. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 30(March), 90–102.

Jessen, D. & Quadflieg, S. (2023). Towards Contingency: How Design Literacy Empowers Pluralistic Worldviews and Enhances Transitional Design. Temes de Disseny, 39, 99–113.

Kelley, T. R., Capobianco, B. M. & Kaluf, K. J. (2015). Concurrent think-aloud protocols to assess elementary design students. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 25(4), 521–540.

Lawson, B. & Dorst, K. (2013). Design Expertise. Routledge.

Lutnæs, E. (2020). Empowering Responsible Design Literacy: Identifying Narratives in a New Curriculum. RChD: Creación y Pensamiento, 5(8), 11–22.

Lutnæs, E. (2021 [2019]). Framing the concept design literacy for a general public. FormAkademisk, 14(4), 1–13.

Mentzer, N. (2014). Team Based Engineering Design Thinking. Journal of Technology Education, 25(2), 52–72.

Mentzer, N. & Becker, K. (2015). Engineering Design Thinking: High School Students’ Performance and Knowledge. Journal of Engineering Education, 104(4), 417–432.

Ministerio de Educación (2016). Bases Curriculares 7° básico a 2° medio [Curricular Bases 7th to 10th grade] (1st ed.). Ministerio de Educación.

Ministerio de Educación (2018). Bases Curriculares Primero a Sexto Básico [Curricular Bases First to Sixth Grade] (1st ed.). Ministerio de Educación.

Nielsen, L. M. (2013). Design Learning for Tomorrow – Design Education from Kindergarten to PhD. In J. B. Reitan, P. Lloyd, E. Bohemia, L. M. Nielsen, I. Digranes & E. Lutnæs (Eds.), DRS // Cumulus: Design Learning for Tomorrow, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. 14–17 May, Oslo, Norway (pp. i–iii). ABM-media.

Nielsen, L. M. (2017). Design Literacy in general education. Design and Technology Education: an International Journal, 22(1), 1–2.

Nielsen, L. M. & Brænne, K. (2013). Design Literacy for Longer Lasting Products. Studies in Material Thinking, 9, 1–9.

Pacione, C. (2010). Evolution of the Mind: A Case for Design Literacy. Interactions, 17(2), 6–11.

Reitan, J. B., Lloyd, P., Bohemia, E., Nielsen, L. M., Digranes, I. & Lutnæs, E. (2013). Design Education from Kindergarten to PhD. DRS // Cumulus: Design Learning for Tomorrow. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. 14–17 May, Oslo, Norway. ABM-media.

Retna, K. S. (2016). Thinking about ‘design thinking’: a study of teacher experiences. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 36(0), 5–19.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books.

Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación del Ministerio de Educación. (2018). Plan de Estudio 2018 [Study Plan 2018]. Ministerio de Educación.

Wells, J., Lammi, M., Gero, J., Grubbs, M. E., Paretti, M. & Williams, C. (2016). Characterizing Design Cognition of High School Students: Initial Analyses Comparing Those With and Without Pre-Engineering experiences. Journal of Technology Education, 27(2), 78–91.

Won, S. G. L., Evans, M. A., Carey, C. & Schnittka, C. G. (2015). Youth appropriation of social media for collaborative and facilitated design-based learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 50, 385–391.

Zupan, B., Cankar, F. & Setnikar Cankar, S. (2018). The development of an entrepreneurial mindset in primary education. European Journal of Education, 53(3), 427–439.

random grid pattern in white, light and dark green and blue




Hvordan referere

Bravo, Úrsula, Bohemia, E., & Saval, F. (2024). Design Literacy in Chilean Curricula: Opportunity or Unfulfilled Promise?. FormAkademisk, 16(5).

Cited by