Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
This Complete Research study investigates how first-year design projects can support diverse students to begin developing an understanding of professional ethics and empathy as central to the work of designers. Our purpose is to examine student learning connected to a design challenge in two first-year courses: one in the chemical & biological engineering department and one in community & regional planning program within the school of architecture and planning department; both courses were taught in the same research university in the southwestern US, which serves a very diverse population. We conducted two iterations in a design-based research process. Design-based research involves testing both theory of and designs for learning under real world conditions. Our learning theory is that diverse populations like ours benefit from early design experiences that connect to their experiences, support them to build on their existing strengths, and build their professional identities. Students in both classes completed a design challenge focused on providing a rural community with access to safe water in the event of contamination from acid mine drainage. In chemical & biological engineering, water filtration was foregrounded, whereas in community & regional planning, community engagement was foregrounded, but in both classes, their solutions had to include both aspects. We collected student work on the challenge, including students’ presentations of their solutions. We developed a coding scheme to compare student work on the design challenges across the two courses. We anticipated differences across the two courses, as past work has shown that students in the chemical & biological engineering course often arrived at solutions not feasible for rural communities to afford. We found that the community & regional planning students brought a more emotional sense of stakeholders and tended to avoid offering solutions. Overall, our learning design supported students to consider different perspectives that had bearing on the design problem they were tackling. This approach efficiently encouraged students to begin caring about the needs of diverse stakeholders in a design project. While we did not have an authentic client, the design challenge itself proved to be relatable to our students, most of whom were already aware of the recent regional events that inspired the design challenge.
James, J. O., & Svihla, V., & Qiu, C., & Riley, C. (2018, June), Using Design Challenges to Develop Empathy in First-year Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31202
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