From Whiteboard to User Testing: Educating Problem Finders

By Katja Fleischmann.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Future designers need to be able to navigate within a shifting economic, social, cultural and technological landscape. Communication and design problems are becoming increasingly complex and are often part of larger systems. Meeting global challenges such as climate change and an aging population will require designers and design graduates to engage in these complex problems and become ‘problem finders’. In the context of undergraduate communication design education typically focusing on creating employable ‘problem solvers’ rather than ‘problem finders’, it raises the question; to what extent can design thinking facilitate the education of designers who are able to meet future design and communication challenges? This paper describes the implementation of design thinking into an undergraduate media design learning environment. Over a period of two years, the effectiveness of the design thinking process and the extent to which students were able to develop a design mind-set that involved problem-finding and was solution-focused were investigated. Furthermore, benefits and challenges encountered by participants were explored. This research was conducted applying a pragmatic approach. Quantitative and qualitative findings from two trials are presented.

Keywords: Design Thinking, Undergraduate Design Education, Design Future Focus

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.45-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.409KB).

Dr. Katja Fleischmann

Senior Lecturer, School of Creative Arts, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Katja Fleischmann is a senior digital media design and new media arts educator at the School of Creative Arts at James Cook University, Australia. Her international experience gained while working in the UK, USA and Germany as designer and design educator informs a variety of research interests which include interrelations of interactivity and visual language, design thinking and her current doctoral research: the development and implementation of an alternative learning and teaching model for undergraduate digital media design education. She has received international recognition for her work as designer and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council commended her work as design educator.