That’s a good question – Using design thinking to support the development of divergent thinking practices in first-year students.

I recently had the chance to work with a colleague at the University of Calgary on the design of an experiential, inquiry-based and student led approach to learning for a new program opening up – one that used the real and proven innovation practices that are fostered through the use of a design mindset. It made me think more about the ways that our goals for student learning connect directly to the findings from my research: designers just aren’t doing this five step model any more than scientists are, or entrepreneurs are, or any one else for that matter…so why should we expect students to become designers after a few exercises? But they ARE using a series of heuristics and routines that form a mindset with which they approach their practice which tells us something really interesting about what kind of divergent questions and growth mindset they’ve put in action. Designers have found a way to embrace ambiguity and to re-synchronize, substitute and replace their formative practices in creative work using a mindset that others have identified as optimistic, experimental, human centered and collaborative. My research has shown how they use these four values to adopt a growth mindset when taking on ambiguous and uncertain challenges.

What might this look like in practice? And how might we assess the use of design thinking as a high impact practice (Kuh, 2008) for undergraduate students? I’ve submitted the following paper  – based on research conducted at the University of Calgary with the support of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning – to a journal recently with the intent of exploring just what this might mean.

That’s a Good Question- Using Design Thinking to Support the Development of Divergent Thinking Practices in First Year Students

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AnneMarie Dorland

AnneMarie Dorland is an Assistant Professor in the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University, an innovation focused university that offers a different kind of business education to students who want to make a change in our world. Named a Joseph Armand Bombardier Scholar by SSHRC and a member of the University of Calgary’s Teaching Academy, Dorland has been committed to bringing together her background as a graphic designer, brand strategist and qualitative researcher to develop innovative, creative and design-oriented undergraduate learning experiences for the past decade. Through her work as a mentor and facilitator, she has supported undergraduate research and inquiry-based learning for hundreds of students in the classroom and in work integrated learning projects. She maintains a research focus on creativity and creative problem solving practices such as design thinking and her current program of research focuses on design-based problem solving practices and their use in undergraduate student learning outside of the studio space. Dorland has played an integral role in the design and leadership of the inquiry-based and experientially focused UCalgary Global Challenges curriculum, the first of its kind in Canada, and in the development and implementation of undergraduate research support for a U15 Canadian University. A creative practice researcher and contributor to several international publications on the use of design-based problem solving, she is passionate about using the practices of the studio to help students create new and innovative ideas in their marketing, branding and design work. Dorland is a professional member of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Ethnographic Praxis in Industry (EPIC), the Service Design Network (SDN), the Canadian Communication Association (ACC-CCA), the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA), the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) and the Design Management Institute (DMI).

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