Professor Kay Stables

Staff details

Position Emeritus Professor of Design Education
Department Design
Email (
Professor Kay Stables

Kay Stables is Emeritus Professor of Design Education. A founder member of the Technology Education Research Unit, she has directed and contributed to research projects in primary and secondary education in the UK and overseas. Recent research has focused on design, creativity and sustainable development, designerly well-being and digital tools in assessment including creating dialogic frameworks for supporting the development of design capability in digital environments through the use of on-screen avatars. Her current research is focusing on alternative approaches to design and technology education in schools that go beyond mainstream, Eurocentric models.

Recent publications include Stables & Keirl, 2015, Environment, Ethics and Cultures: Design and Technology Education’s contribution to sustainable global futures (Sense) and Williams and Stables, 2017, Critique in Design and Technology Education (Springer).

She is a Trustee of the Design and Technology Association and Editor of Design and Technology Education: An International Journal an open source research journal that provides a broad and inclusive platform for research into design education and technology education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Research Interests

Kay Stables’ research interests stem from her belief that a defining characteristic of being human is design capability.  Her teaching and research has at its core the development of this capability from the very youngest learners upwards, acknowledging Sen’s definition of capability as what a person can be (their beliefs) and what a person can do (their agency).  This stance drives her interest in the wellbeing of the designer in everyone and how this can be developed through education.  A major focus in her work has been how we understand this capability and its development, which has centred much of her research on authentic, performance based assessment of capability. A belief in the importance of social and cultural relevance is fuelling her current interest in alternative perspectives, beyond mainstream Eurocentric ideas of knowledge, knowing and doing, that can bring more pluralistic contributions to mainstream education.



Kimbell, Richard and Stables, Kay. 2007. Researching Design Learning: Issues and findings from two decades of research and development. Springer, p. 326. ISBN 9781402051142

Conference or Workshop Item

Stables, Kay. 2012. 'Designerly well-being: Can mainstream schooling offer a curriculum that provides a foundation for developing the lifelong design and technological capability of individuals and societies?'. In: PATT26: Technology Education in the 21st Century. Stockholm, Sweden 26-30 June 2012.

Stables, Kay. 2010. 'The inspiration pitch: where do design ideas come from?'. In: D&T - Ideas Worth Sharing: the Design and Technology Association Education and International Research Conference 2010. Keele University, United Kingdom.

Stables, Kay; McLaren, Susan and Bain, Jennifer. 2007. 'Chicken or egg: links between approaches to gathering data through authentic assessment activity and ways of supporting sustainable assessment of creative performance'. In: BERA Annual Conference. Institute of Education, University of London 5-8th September 2007.

Stables, Kay and Kimbell, Richard. 2007. 'Evidence through the looking glass: developing performance and assessing capability.'. In: 13th International Conference on Thinking: Curious Minds Think and Learn by Exploring the Unknown. Norrköping, Sweden June 17-21, 2007.


Stables, Kay. 2013. Social and cultural relevance in approaches to developing designerly well-being: the potential and challenges when learners call the shots in Design and Technology projects. Technology Education for the future: a play on sustainability, pp. 437-446.

Stables, Kay. 2013. Designerly well-being: implications for pedagogy that develops design capability. Design Learning for tomorrow: Design Education from Kindergarten to PhD, pp. 1111-1126.

Stables, Kay. 2010. What makes an idea be worth sharing…or maybe recycling…or maybe shredding? What do we want learners to ‘take home’? Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 15(3), pp. 7-9. ISSN 1360-1431

Stables, Kay. 2009. Educating for environmental sustainability and educating for creativity: actively compatible or missed opportunities? International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 19(2), pp. 199-219. ISSN 0957-7572

Stables, Kay. 2008. Designing matters; designing minds: the importance of nurturing the designerly in young people. Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 13(3), pp. 8-18. ISSN 1360-1431

McLaren, Susan V. and Stables, Kay. 2008. Exploring key discriminators of progression: relationships between attitude, meta-cognition and performance of novice designers at a time of transition. Design Studies, 29(2), pp. 181-201. ISSN 0142694X

Stables, Kay and Kimbell, Richard. 2001. Technology Education in South Africa: Evaluating an Innovative Pilot Project. Research in Science Education, 31(1), pp. 71-90. ISSN 0157244X

Book Section

Stables, K and Keirl, S. 2015. Introducing the Book. In: K Stables and S Keirl, eds. Environment, Ethics and Cultures: Design and Technology Education’s Contribution to Sustainable Global Futures. Rotterdam: Sense, pp. 3-13. ISBN 978-94-6209-936-4

Stables, Kay. 2010. Learning and Teaching Design and Technology: Meeting needs, developing capability. In: K Subramaniam, ed. The epiSTEME Reviews: Research Trends in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education Volume 3. New Delhi: MacMillan Publishers India Ltd, pp. 249-274. ISBN 023-033-242-0

Kimbell, Richard and Stables, Kay. 2009. Research as a design task. In: Alister Jones and Marc de Vries, eds. International Handbook on Research and Development in Technology Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 599-614. ISBN 978-90-8790-878-2

Stables, Kay and Bain, Jennifer. 2009. Transforming assessment: assessment of learning becomes assessment for learning. In: Alister Jones and Marc de Vries, eds. International Handbook of Research and Development in Technology Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 493-508. ISBN 978-90-8790-877-5

Kimbell, Richard and Stables, Kay. 2008. Designerly Thinking Beyond Design. In: Kajsa Borg and Viveca Lindberg, eds. Kunskap, lärande och bedömning i estetiska och praktiska ämnen [Knowledge, learning and assessment in aesthetical and manual school subjects]. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, pp. 188-198. ISBN 9789176566565

Stables, Kay. 2008. Observational techniques for examining student learning activity in Technology Education. In: Howard Middleton, ed. Researching Technology Education: Methods and techniques. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 135-154.

Stables, Kay and Kimbell, Richard. 2006. Unorthodox methodologies: Approaches to understanding design and technology. In: M. deVries and I. Mottier, eds. International handbook of technology education: Reviewing the past twenty years. Sense Publishers, pp. 313-330. ISBN 9077874062

Edited Book

Stables, Kay and Keirl, Steve, eds. 2015. Environment, Ethics and Cultures: Design and Technology Education’s Contribution to Sustainable Global Futures. Rotterdam: Sense. ISBN 9789462099364


Bain, Jennifer; Kimbell, Richard; Miller, Soo and Stables, Kay. 2004. Assessing Design Innovation: a research & development project for the DfES and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Project Report. Technology Education Research Unit, UK.