Exploring Design Thinking for Instructional Practice
Banks-Hunt, Joan Maria
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This dissertation entitled, Exploring Design Thinking for Instructional Practice, is situated in the cognitive rigor of design thinking instructional practice and engineering design-based capstone courses. The content of the instructional practice connects with educators employing a wide range of intellectual activities or cognitive tasks in formulating their curriculum. Key attributes of design thinking were identified through a focused literature review with an emphasis on theoretical propositions applicable to instructional practice. This dissertation contains two manuscripts: (a) an exploration of the theoretical literature related to design thinking explicating implications for instructional practice, and (b) a case study involving a small, purposive, sample of undergraduate faculty members teaching engineering design-based courses with findings broadly applicable to design processes in college curricula. The faculty participants in the case study were educators at a large, public, research-intensive university in the southeastern region of the United States. The data analyses involved triangulation of semi-structured interviews conducted with faculty participants and their design-based course materials, including syllabi and lesson plan materials. The study's thematic findings were not tied to engineering but rather course design, design process, and course management. The findings show the utility of artifact creation for learning with understanding for everyone, not just engineers and other traditional designers. Overall, the dissertation contributes to pedagogy that promotes student-centered engagement for learning with understanding. It recommends design thinking instructional practice for inclusion in designing and making artifacts of constructed knowledge for learning with understanding engagements across the academy.
General Audience Abstract
This dissertation entitled, Exploring Design Thinking for Instructional Practice, integrates a wide range of intellectual activities also referred to as cognitive tasks of student-centered design thinking activities. In this dissertation, these tasks are useful for tackling problems that are not well-defined, such as, open-ended, real-world problems. Examples of this pedagogy are useful for educators considering and/or implementing design thinking in their curricula. This dissertation contains two manuscripts: (a) an exploration of the theoretical literature related to design thinking from theory to artifact making, and (b) a case study involving undergraduate faculty members teaching design thinking in design-based courses. The study's faculty participants were educators teaching engineering capstone courses at a large, public, research university in the southeastern region of the United States. Their students design and make solutions for open-ended, real-world problems that are not in textbooks and do not have "right" answers. The study's data collection phase involved interviews with the faculty participants and course materials (syllabi, lesson plan materials, handouts, and course websites). Data analysis produced three robust themes: course design, design process, and course management. These themes suggest that a design thinking instructional practice belies perceptions that design thinking is tied exclusively to engineering and other traditional design disciplines. The findings suggest that design thinking pedagogy engages students in creation of artifacts, learning with understanding, hands-on experiential learning in iterations, use of productivity tools, teamwork, and new starting points when outcomes do not meet expectations. Overall, the findings suggest design thinking pedagogy promotes student-centered design thinking activities.
- Doctoral Dissertations