Dissemination at a Distance


Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, several presentations that I was scheduled to make this spring and summer have been delayed or cancelled – something we’re all facing as academics and as public scholars. These are a few of the presentations that I was looking forward to sharing in the spring and summer of 2020. Our resilience as an academic community is always so exciting for me to see, and I’m excited to present this work sometime in the future, when things return to normal.

Better by design: Design thinking, experiential learning and the development of a growth mindset in undergraduate classrooms.

Mount Royal University MRFA Spring Retreat (Spring 2020)

How might design thinking — the interactive, human-centered pedagogical approach that has recently been recognized as a valuable strategy in the development of a creative practice (Brown, 2008) — complement existing approaches to experiential learning in higher education classrooms? This paper presents findings from a comparative study of 400 undergraduate business school students enrolled in a common first year marketing class, and reveals the ways that design thinking protocols can be mobilized to strengthen experiential learning in the post-secondary learning environment. The survey data collected from students participating in both the design thinking and the non-design thinking samples of this research study shed light on whether this pedagogical approach can indeed effectively foster the development of a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008), and on the relationship between the use of design thinking approaches, the resonance of reflective practices and the alignment of experiential learning goals in our classroom partnerships. In this presentation, I will discuss specific outcomes of the research study related to the phenomenon of design-thinking, and the way that design-thinking oriented learning strategies might contribute to the development of a growth mindset in undergraduate students within an experiential learning environment.

Designing our thinking: Using a design thinking mindset to support experiential learning in the MRU classroom.

MRU Teaching Celebration, Spring 2020

In this round table session, we’ll explore the use of ‘design thinking’ strategies as a form of experiential learning. We will focus on what design thinking might look like across disciplines here at MRU, how we might use design thinking in an experiential learning classroom, and what design thinking practices might enable us to do differently in classes across campus.

To get us started, I’ll share survey findings and student reflections from a 2020 study of the ways that integrating design thinking into a marketing class at the Bissett School of Business changed how students achieved divergent thinking and growth mindset focused learning objectives. Then, we’ll work together to develop a bank of new and useful ways in which we might adapt the thinking, learning and making practices of designers to support the development of divergent thinking skills and critical cognitive abilities in our own learning communities.

Better by design: Design thinking, experiential learning and the development of a growth mindset in undergraduate classrooms.

STLHE National Conference, June 2020

Abstract

This paper presents findings from a comparative study of 400 undergraduate business school students enrolled in a common first year marketing class, and reveals the ways that design thinking protocols can be mobilized to strengthen experiential learning in the post-secondary learning environment. The survey data collected from students participating in both the design thinking and the non-design thinking samples of this research study shed light on whether this pedagogical approach can indeed effectively foster the development of a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008), and on the relationship between the use of design thinking approaches, the resonance of reflective practices and the alignment of experiential learning goals in our classroom partnerships.

Session description

Design thinking has been highlighted as a signature approach in creative and studio-based education (Cross, 2012); as a key driver of innovation and creative mindsets (Dorst, 2011), and as an integral catalyst for the advancement of failure tolerance among creative practitioners (Dorland, 2018). However, despite the extensive research conducted on the ways that design thinking influences teams in the creative economy, executive suite and social entrepreneurship fields, there is still a great deal of ambiguity with respect to how design thinking can be applied as a form of experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) and how that application may effect the development of a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008) in undergraduate students.

In this paper I will present findings from a recent study of the impact of design-thinking oriented learning strategies on the development of a growth mindset and on student characterizations of the role of failure in creative problem-solving within the context of an undergraduate marketing course.

This study of student learning and the impact of design-thinking practices on divergent thinking focused learning outcomes was rooted in the particular local context (Hutchings & Huber, 2005) of the first-year undergraduate seminar classroom, and not of the design studio. As such, findings from this study provide a new perspective into the use of a well-established creative process in an untraditional context. Many investigations of the use of design-thinking practices examine the use of the five-stage process in corporate brand, product, and strategy development work (IDEO, 2019). Here, I will explore what happened when an undergraduate focused business school used design-thinking to help in the first stages of creating new thoughts and questions in partnership with student learners. This research investigated whether the use of design-thinking oriented learning strategies in an undergraduate marketing class could contribute to the development of a growth mindset in the learning community. Specifically, I answered the following questions:

1. How did students in a design-thinking focused section of an undergraduate marketing survey class describe their orientation toward a growth mindset before and after a design-thinking-based learning experience? How did their orientation differ from that described by learners in a standardized section of the same course?

2. How did the use of design-thinking focused pedagogical approaches change the learning experience for student partners within the undergraduate classroom, and how were design thinking protocols aligned with established experiential learning goals?

Relevance

This paper is of importance to the scholarship of teaching and learning because it is specifically focused on developing a better understanding of student learning through inquiry and engagement, and because it directly addresses the ongoing conversation about how we as SoTL researchers might better understand the establishment of growth mindset skills and the alignment of experiential learning goals with meaningful classroom partnerships within the structure of post-secondary learning. As a designer and design researcher, I am curious about the ways in which the creative problem solving techniques perfected by the design community might be applied in the classroom: I plan to share actionable findings from this research project with conference attendees in the form of presentation slides and sample learning activities in order to contribute to a better understanding of how design thinking can be used to support a variety of individual experiential learning goals.

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, June, 84-92.

Cross, N. (2011). Design thinking: Understanding how designers think and work. Oxford, UK: Berg.

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of design thinking and its application. Design Studies, 32. 539-532

Dweck, C. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House.

Dorland, AM. (2018). Doing design thinking: An ethnography of the digital graphic design studio. Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary.

Huber, M., & Hutchings, P. (2005). The advancement of learning: Building the teaching commons. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.