I recently had the chance to work with a colleague at the University of Calgary on the design of an experiential, inquiry-based and student led approach to learning for a new program opening up – one that used the real and proven innovation practices that are fostered through the use of a design mindset. It made me think more about the ways that our goals for student learning connect directly to the findings from my research: designers just aren’t doing this five step model any more than scientists are, or entrepreneurs are, or any one else for that matter…so why should we expect students to become designers after a few exercises? But they ARE using a series of heuristics and routines that form a mindset with which they approach their practice which tells us something really interesting about what kind of divergent questions and growth mindset they’ve put in action. Designers have found a way to embrace ambiguity and to re-synchronize, substitute and replace their formative practices in creative work using a mindset that others have identified as optimistic, experimental, human centered and collaborative. My research has shown how they use these four values to adopt a growth mindset when taking on ambiguous and uncertain challenges.
What might this look like in practice? And how might we assess the use of design thinking as a high impact practice (Kuh, 2008) for undergraduate students? I’ve submitted the following paper – based on research conducted at the University of Calgary with the support of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning – to a journal recently with the intent of exploring just what this might mean.