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Ta-Da! You’re a Design Thinker! Validating the DesignShop as a Model for Teaching Design Thinking to Non-Designers and Achieving Systemic Re-Design in the Education System

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Design Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1455.1 - 26.1455.28



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Paper Authors


Jessica Asly Artiles Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Jessica A. Artiles: Mechanical Engineer, Masters of Science Candidate in the Technology and Policy Program, Masters of Science Candidate in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

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Katherine E LeVine Wellesley College

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Katherine LeVine has been working to improve education during her four years at Wellesley College. Passionate about the intersection of education and technology, her dual degree in computer science and education has helped her to contribute to projects such as automatic essay grading and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's App Inventor, a blocks-based programming language. She is inspired to help people of all ages enjoy learning.

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Ta-Da! You’re a design thinker! Validating the DesignShop as a Model for Teaching Design Thinking to Non-Designers and Achieving Systemic Re-Design in the Education System “Hackathons” are known for creating unique, collaborative spaces where interestedpersons voluntarily participate in a marathon of hacking, or coding and tinkering, usuallyovernight. Today however, many of these events are targeted to only those who have theexperience in a specific area and the projects completed are frequently unsustainable andtrivial due to the pressures to produce a tangible product by the end of the event. Onlyrecently have hackathon-type events emerged with a focus on broad, systemic issues, such aseducation. In our first experiment, the Education Designathon, we pushed the usual scope ofhackathons to attempt to hack and re-design three education subsystems. When projects, orhacks, fell short of systemic scope, we searched for a methodology that, when induced, couldhelp hack larger issues within education. We identified design thinking as a problem-solvingapproach that could help in attacking broad, systemic issues while also teaching people newways to work together and form sustainable solutions. A new model was born, an EducationDesignShop, structured around modules that teach design thinking and challenge participantsto apply these methods towards their re-designs of the education system. We compare the results of projects born out of hackathon-type events, such as theEdu Designathon and HGSE Hackathon, against those born out of three global EducationDesignShops held in the United States, Brasil, and The United Arab Emirates. We map howthe structure of the DesignShop aids in creating projects with a greater potential for impactand systemic change. Our Education DesignShop model includes eight key features, among these: threetopics to attract similar-minded individuals; an algorithm that pre-assembled teams for anaveraging of interdisciplinarity and design backgrounds; hands-on modules fostering designthinking; materials resources vast and available for prototyping; prizes enabling continuationand execution; and encouraging and thematic “easter eggs” throughout.We have been able to analyze the structure of the DesignShop model against other hackathonmodels to show that sustainable problem solving is learnable and retained through this fast-paced structured event. We tracked the evolution of participants as they become designthinkers through three 20-minute evaluations given before, after, and a month after theDesignShop. By using Discourse Analysis we are able to code for sophistication levels of thedesign thinking stages outlined by Stanford’s d.School—empathy, define, ideate, prototype,test— that are present in the participant responses over time. Results show an increasingnumber of design thinking terminology in the participant’s problem-solving approaches.Moreover, we visualize the logic flow in participant responses, and how they convergetowards a train of thought that is structured by the design thinking process. By weighing thelevel of understanding shown at each of these stages by the participants in their responses, wededuce that design thinking was learned to varying degrees during the Education DesignShopand retained over a one-month span.

Artiles, J. A., & LeVine, K. E. (2015, June), Ta-Da! You’re a Design Thinker! Validating the DesignShop as a Model for Teaching Design Thinking to Non-Designers and Achieving Systemic Re-Design in the Education System Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24792

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