Photo of the Best Research Case Study certificate

CVAD Learn X Design Team takes 1st place for best case study at international design research conference

Feb. 23, 2022: "Preparing to introduce design thinking in middle schools — a case study" has been judged No. 1 and awarded the "Best Research Case Study Certificate" among the scholarly case studies submitted by 43 institutions in 22 countries to the Design Research Society's 2021: 6th International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Sept. 24-26, 2021, in Jinan City, Shandong Province of China. The theme for the conference was "Engaging with Challenges in Design Education."

The certificate recognizes Michael R. Gibson and Keith Owens, professors in communications design and DRS members, Peter Hyland, director of the Onstead Institute, and Christina Donaldson, doctoral candidate in Art Education.

After a formal review process, the CVAD team members recently received news that their three-year case study titled “Preparing to introduce design thinking in middle schools” earned first place with a certificate for “Best Research Case Study.” The case study presented via Zoom on Sept. 25, 2021, earned the number one spot out of 43 presented by universities from 22 nations attending the Design Research Society’s sixth international Learn X Design 2021 Conference. “Engaging with Challenges in Design Education” was the theme of the conference, which took place at Shangdong University of Art and Design in Jinan, China.

"We were trying to determine one or more effective means to introduce design thinking as a key problem-identification and problem-solving approach in middle school learning environments — not just visual arts’ classrooms, but that’s where we wound up," said Gibson. "The paper we wrote that Learn X Design is publishing — along with our video — articulates knowledge and understandings we gained from engaging in the planning processes necessary to facilitate these endeavors."

The case study critically analyzes and describes knowledge gained by the UNT team's design educators and researchers who engaged in the planning necessary to introduce specific aspects of design thinking in middle school classrooms in Denton, Texas, U.S., Gibson said. 

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. 

Case studies aim to provide a platform for sharing a reflective account of a project. Therefore, it was expected for the case studies to provide an actionable outcome(s) from the insights outlined in the text. Each case study was judged for clearly established, credible and relevant context, visual or empirical evidence and support; and immediacy, applicability and transferability of key insights.

The Design Research Society, founded in London in 1966, is an international organization whose purpose is to promote and develop design research. It is the longest established multi-disciplinary worldwide society for the design research community.

View the Learn X Design video on YouTube.

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