Abstract

In higher education, design thinking is often taught as a process. Yet design cognition resides in action and design practices. Dewey’s pragmatism offers a solid epistemology for design thinking. This paper describes a design research whereby Dewey’s inquiry served as the foundation for educating students. Three extensive educational case studies are presented whereby a design inquiry was introduced and became part of the curricula. It was found that students and coaches struggled with doubts experienced as a result of the co-evolution of problem and solution, means and ends. Four coping mechanisms were observed: (1) focus on problems, risking analysis paralysis; (2) focus on creative problem-solving, risking unsubstantiated design; (3) focus on means, risking fixation; and (4) focus on future ends, risking hanging on to a dream. By establishing a joint practice and a community of learners through show-and-share sessions, the students establish solid ground.

Keywords

design thinking, pragmatism, design education, epistemology, boundary objects

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Conference Track

Research Paper

COinS
 
Jun 25th, 9:00 AM

Touch ground: Introducing design inquiry in higher education

In higher education, design thinking is often taught as a process. Yet design cognition resides in action and design practices. Dewey’s pragmatism offers a solid epistemology for design thinking. This paper describes a design research whereby Dewey’s inquiry served as the foundation for educating students. Three extensive educational case studies are presented whereby a design inquiry was introduced and became part of the curricula. It was found that students and coaches struggled with doubts experienced as a result of the co-evolution of problem and solution, means and ends. Four coping mechanisms were observed: (1) focus on problems, risking analysis paralysis; (2) focus on creative problem-solving, risking unsubstantiated design; (3) focus on means, risking fixation; and (4) focus on future ends, risking hanging on to a dream. By establishing a joint practice and a community of learners through show-and-share sessions, the students establish solid ground.

 

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