Asee peer logo

Reinforcing a “Design Thinking” Course by Restructuring Student-Instructor Interactions

Download Paper |

Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

24.1035.1 - 24.1035.16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/22968

Download Count

65

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Ang Liu University of Southern California

visit author page

Dr. Liu is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow and Manager of Viterbi iPodia Program at the University of Southern California.

visit author page

biography

Stephen Y. Lu University of Southern California

visit author page

Dr. Lu is the David Packard Chair in Manufacturing Engineering,
Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, and Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Director of Viterbi iPodia Program, at University of Southern California.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

A Conceptual Model of How to Structure A Design Thinking CourseOver the last decade, the study of design thinking is drawing increasing attentions in bothacademia and industry. As a result of this trend, a number of design thinking courses have beendeveloped by different organizations. Nevertheless, to date, relatively few efforts have beendevoted to conceptually describe what constitutes a design thinking course and how it differsfrom the traditional engineering design courses. Based on Vygotsky’s Zone of ProximalDevelopment, this paper conceptually models the design thinking course as a system thatfunctions to gradually reduce the distance between a student’s actual design capability asdetermined by his/her independent problem solving, and the student’s potential design capabilityas determined by his/her problem solving under instructor/expert’s guidance.The IDEF0 methodology is used to describe the functions of a design thinking course withrespect to its input, output, mechanism, and control. The input of a design thinking course refersto a series of domain independent design principles being lectured by the instructor. Unliketraditional design courses that teach students design theories and methods to solve specificproblems, a design thinking course teaches domain independent principles that are generallyapplicable to different design problems. The output is student’s actual cognitive faculty to solvedesign-specific problems independently (without external guidance from instructor/expert). Themechanism of the design thinking course means the social interactions between instructor andstudents. Unlike traditional design courses that are characterized by a linear transmission ofknowledge from instructor to students, the design thinking course features social interactionsthrough which knowledge is being constructed with texts and in contexts. In a design thinkingcourse, the social interaction between student(s) and instructor(s) develops in a non-linear,iterative, and abductive manner over time. The control of the design thinking course refers to thedistance between student’s potential capability with his/her actual capability. This is to say that,the zone of proximal development controls the lever of social interactions within a design course:as student’s actual design capability increases, instructor’s engagement level decreases.Based on the above conceptual model, a practical strategy of how to structure a design thinkingcourse is proposed, which consists of five activities: (1) instructor prepares student’s mind byintroducing some basic design principles; (2) instructor engages students in a design process byassigning some simple tasks for students to practice individually; (3) students interact withexpert designer to gain insights, for instance, instructor guides students to jointly go through adesign process; (4) students review, reformulate the above guided design process by themselves;(5) students share with the class their unique design thinking process/outcome. A case study ispresented to detail the practical deployment of the proposed model on a graduate design course,namely “Advanced Mechanical Design – Innovative Design Thinking”, that is offered in a top 10U.S. engineering school. The assessment of student’s ideation effectiveness (i.e., based on themetrics of novelty, variety, quantity, and quality) indicates that the new teaching strategy resultsin a significant increase of student’s conceptual design performance.

Liu, A., & Lu, S. Y. (2014, June), Reinforcing a “Design Thinking” Course by Restructuring Student-Instructor Interactions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/22968

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015