CREATING ADAPTABLE, HOLISTICALLY MINDED LEARNERS USING DESIGNER PROFILES AND SYSTEMS THINKING TO EMBRACE COMPLEXITY
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Anderson. Eric
Institution: Carnegie Mellon University, United States of America
Section: Design Thinking in Engineering Education
Disruptive influences of technology on learning systems together with the complexity of designing human experiences within expanded ecosystems has required many design education programmes to rethink their missions. This was the case for the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, USA where recently its entire curricula – undergraduate, masters, and PhD was reconceived. The purpose was to create a social and environment-focused framework that better prepares systems thinkers who are able to see, structure, and address complex problems within a globally connected and interdependent world. This paper shares how pedagogical goals were translated into a fifth-semester undergraduate product design experience. Specifically, the paper focuses on two aspects: using a team formation approach based on student “Designer Profiles” and the establishment of a systems challenge where each student had responsibility for a complex part as well as collectively resolving the interdependent needs of the system. Compared to a previous version of the same project where students teamed to conduct research then developed independent responses, the qualitative outcomes assessment of this approach resulted in: 1) better holistic systems thinking and understanding across research and conceptualisation activities; 2) directed and natural collaboration activities that helped students negotiate and establish functional criteria for each of their product areas and the defined ecosystem; 3) increased depth in the design of features and interactions towards shaping a more holistic experience; 4) clarity for developing their products and system as an opportunity for educating and motivating user behaviour modifications towards new sustainable social practices that are friendlier to the environment.