About this paper

Appears in:
Page: 3213 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain

A CRITICAL REALIST APPROACH TO THE DESIGN AND EVALUATION OF A DESIGN THINKING CURRICULUM

A. Withell

Auckland University of Technology (NEW ZEALAND)
As a design educator, I have developed and taught a number university-level programmes in industrial design, and business, and I have developed a specific interest in design thinking, which is a capability that I believe could support and drive effective and successful innovation across a range of discipline and professional areas. I have incorporated the principles and practices of design thinking into a range of courses and projects. During this process, I became aware that while many students understand and embrace aspects of design thinking, utilise associated methodologies effectively, and develop good capabilities, there are many students who struggle to comprehend key concepts or apply methodologies competently.

An initial review of literature provided some helpful insights, but it also revealed that there was limited evaluation-based research of the frameworks and resources that might be used to support curriculum design and development, and the learning and teaching of design thinking. Based on this evolving experience and knowledge development, and a growing belief in the value of design thinking to augment design and other specialist disciplines, I advocated for the design and development of a specialist design thinking curriculum. In addition, I also identified that there was also a unique and significant opportunity to formally research and evaluate the curriculum in partnership with students and staff, and to utilise the findings to further optimise the curriculum.

The decision to embark on a research-informed curriculum development project led me to carefully consider paradigm positing, and methodology. A paradigm position of critical realism, derived from the work of Roy Bhaskar (1978, 1979) and others, was selected. This was primarily based on my pragmatic interest in identifying processes, conditions and the causal mechanisms that underpin the operation of phenomena, which in this case was design thinking, and curriculum. Critical realism was also selected, because of its ability to bridge the socio-cultural and scientific domains, its ontological position in regards to a stratified reality, it’s relativist epistemology, which can incorporate constructivist concepts in relation the construction of knowledge, and its retroductive analysis frameworks. Action research was selected because its cyclic process of ‘action’ underpinned by collective, collaborative, and self-reflective inquiry, and is compatibility with the ontological perspective of critical realism.

This paper provides an overview of the research design, the action research process including curriculum enactment, data collections and analysis, and describes some of the key findings. These include a brief overview of my own critical realist conceptualisations of learning, learning environments and curriculum, and design thinking. In addition the paper provides some critical, but useful, insights into the application and use of critical realism, and action research in curriculum design and evaluation, and educational research.

References:
[1] Bhaskar, R. (1978). A realist theory of science. Hassocks: Harvester Press.
[2] Bhaskar, R. (1979). The possibility of naturalism. Routledge: London.
@InProceedings{WITHELL2015ACR,
author = {Withell, A.},
title = {A CRITICAL REALIST APPROACH TO THE DESIGN AND EVALUATION OF A DESIGN THINKING CURRICULUM},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {3213}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Withell
TI - A CRITICAL REALIST APPROACH TO THE DESIGN AND EVALUATION OF A DESIGN THINKING CURRICULUM
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 3213
EP - 3213
ER -
A. Withell (2015) A CRITICAL REALIST APPROACH TO THE DESIGN AND EVALUATION OF A DESIGN THINKING CURRICULUM, ICERI2015 Proceedings, p. 3213.
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