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Design as a catalyst: A pedagogical framework

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There is an increasing interest in the design and creative thinking process in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and health education disciplines. Many new degree programmes are integrating design thinking into their syllabi. The idea was to bring creative problem-solving culture in these disciplines. The exposure these students get is minimal, and it does not provide enough foundation for them to use the knowledge in a real-life situation. There is an increased awareness for the importance of design thinking in the innovative process and more and more STEM, business and health establishments are embedding trained designers into their research teams. Yet many designers are not equipped to work in interdisciplinary teams. Design students tend to approach problems in a more intuitive and opportunistic manner whereas STEM and health disciplines approaches are often more algorithmic and systematic. In interdisciplinary teams, this often creates tension. In this paper, we share the outcome of a phenomenological study on a high functioning interdisciplinary team working on a health innovation project focused on aging with a disability. The project is used as a case study to illustrate the skill set needed for a designer to make a significant contribution to its overall outcome. Utilising the Belbin team role, we identified key attributes that are essential for a designer to become an effective member in interdisciplinary teams. Based on this study, we propose changes to current design pedagogy framework to better equip design students to work in interdisciplinary teams.




Gudur, R., McDONAGH, D., Harris, M., & Rogers, W. (2020). Design as a catalyst: A pedagogical framework. In Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, E and PDE 2020. The Design Society.

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