A case study of authentic learning underpinned by design thinking and industry collaboration
Inder, S; Withell, A
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This paper will present a case study of a year-two product design project that has been developed alongside the specific requirements of an industry collaborator and delivered within an innovative, research-led, Design Thinking (Brown, 2008) framework, providing an authentic learning experience for students. This tightly structured approach aimed to “engage students in real-world inquiry problems involving higher order thinking skills with an authentic audience beyond the classroom” (Rule, 2006), through the integration of industry orientated needs and constraints. The paper will discuss the overarching approach to the development of the project including the key principles and theories that underpin the curriculum. The paper then discusses collaboration with an industry expert to develop the pragmatic design and industry constraints focusing on economic feasibility, functional viability and product desirability. In addition, it includes a description of an innovative Design Thinking framework that has been developed as part of a PhD research project. The paper concludes with a discussion of the impact of this tightly constrained, authentic learning approach on the design expertise development of students. It also discusses the tensions in developing a learning and teaching approach for year two students that balances Design Thinking (empathising and radical idea generation) and pragmatic, constraint driven design.