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How can we use Design-Thinking Process
to improve Problem Solving and Education?

teachers doing DEEPdt Design ThinkingThis is the home-page for a website (being developed by Craig Rusbult, PhD,* during life on a road less traveled) about Education for Problem Solving.  My web-pages will explore educational strategies & activities that we – me and other educators with similar goals, working together cooperatively – can develop and use, for the purpose of helping students improve their problem-solving abilities (in all areas of life) by improving their experiences with problem solving and process of problem solving.     {* contact: craigru57-att-yahoo-daut-caum}

Education and Problem-Solving Activities:  With educationally-useful broad definitions, education is learning from life-experiences, and a problem is an opportunity (in any area of life) to make things better.  Whenever you try to make things better you are problem solving, so your problem-solving activities include almost everything you do in life.   This wide scope makes it easier for teachers to find problem-solving activities that are fun, and are useful for helping students improve their problem-solving skills for everyday living;  and it lets us build two-way educational bridges between school and life, to increase the motivation & confidence of students. 

I want to work with other educators to develop our ideas – yours and mine, including those outlined in this page – for how to help students improve their creative-and-critical thinking skills and their effective using of problem-solving process.

 

Problem-Solving Activities should be Fun and Useful:  We want to develop activities that are fun for students, and will be useful for them.

Two Kinds of FUN:  An activity will be "fun" when students experience pleasure – due to the intrinsic nature of the activity, when the topic is interesting and their actions are exciting – and they anticipate success.  We can help students increase their anticipations of success by using a series of activities with appropriate difficulty, with a level of challenge that is “just right” (as in a well-written mystery story, or a well-designed problem situation) so students won't be bored if it's too easy, or discouraged if it's too difficult, so they will be challenged but they will succeed and will enjoy the satisfaction of success.     {motivations from short-term pleasures and long-term satisfactions}

USEFUL for Students:  We want activities to be educationally useful for students, with "useful" defined by their goals.  We should try to understand the goals of students – by learning their perspectives, thinking with empathy – so we can use their goals to guide our goals for their education, in our goal-directed designing of their problem-solving activities and (in broader strategies for teaching) their curriculum & instruction.

Personal Education:  We can ask students to think about their personal goals for life, and help them develop a proactive problem-solving approach for their own personal education when they ask “how can I learn more from life-experiences – both inside & outside school – in ways that will make things better for myself (and for others)* and help me achieve my goals for life?”    {* For whole-person education we can help students develop virtuous goals that will promote long-term deep satisfactions for them because they have win-win goals, wanting to make things better for themselves and also for other people. }

 

Educational Bridges:  My models for Problem-Solving Process help us show students how they use a similar process of problem solving for almost everything they do in life, in school and in everyday life.  This broad scope lets us build two-way bridges for students – from school into life, and life into school – that will improve their transfers of learning (inside & outside school) and transitions of attitudes (by improving their motivations for wanting to learn, and their confidence in being able to learn when they invest intelligent effort in learning).

 
Below, these basic ideas are explored in more depth.

 

Learning for The Future:  Teachers can use educational bridges to promote transfers of ideas-and-skills to different situations (this is the usual meaning of transfer) and also (in the essential purpose of education) between different times.  With a transfer-of-learning from past to present, the ideas & skills you learned in the past are helping you now.  With a transfer-of-learning from present to future, what you're learning now will help you in the future.  Maya Angelou described how your learning (in the past and present) affects your performance in the present & future, now & later: "Do the best you can [now] until you know better. Then [later] when you know better, do better."  Later, when you have learned from experience (with self-education) so you "know better," you can "do better."  You can be more effective in "making things better" and your improved problem solving will be a beneficial result of your education, of your learning from experience.

Growth Mindset:  One of the best ways to learn more effectively is by developing-and-using a better growth mindset so — when you ask yourself “how well am I doing in this area of life?” and honestly answer “not well enough” — you are thinking “not yet” (instead of “not ever”) because you are confident that in this area of life (as in most areas, including those that are most important) you can “grow” by improving your skills, when you invest intelligent effort in your personal education.

 

Performing and/or Learning:  When you want your best possible performance now, you're on-task with a Performance Objective.  When you want your best possible learning now, so you can improve your best possible performance later, you're on-task with a Learning Objective, a Self-Education Objective.  Maya Angelou says "when you know better, do better."  This "do better" happens in two ways, in two stages.  First, you "know better" by learning from experience, so your potential performance has improved and you can do better.  Second, this potential must be actualized by converting “can do better” into “are doing better” with high-quality performing.   /   a summary: After your learning has improved your potential performance, this potential to “do it better” can be actualized in reality with high-quality performing.

Why is "and/or" in the title of this section?  Because when you're doing something, you can try to maximize your learning, or your performing, or both.  In an example from sports, compare the goals for a basketball player, and team, during a practice (when the main goal is to learn better now, to prepare for their future) and a tournament game (when the main goal is to perform better now, in their present), and how this goal-difference affects everything.    {more about performing and/or learning and/or enjoying}

 

Better Education – More and More:  Your education is learning from your life-experiences (so you can learn how to improve, how to become more effective in everything you do in all areas of your life), so better education is getting more experiences, and learning more from your experiences.    { hopefully this website will help you get better education for yourself and for others }

Getting More Experiences:  By getting more experiences, you can learn more.  If you're not overly worried about making mistakes when it doesn't matter much — by contrast with “don't make a mistake” situations like driving a car or climbing a mountain — you can decide to “go for it” in a wider range of situations.  By doing this you'll get a wider range of experiences, with more opportunities for lifelong learning in your personal education.  You'll be using an adventurous “wanting to learn” strategy to increase your experience-and-learning, like Pablo Picasso who wanted to “often be doing what I cannot do [i.e. have not done], so I may learn how to do it.”  In your life, you can do this for yourself.  In school, teachers can help students look forward to their problem-solving adventures with a growth mindset.     {when you try something new, you may wonder if "have not done" will become "cannot do" so... how does a success-anticipating growth mindset cope with the possibility of failure?}

 
WHY we should build Educational Bridges, and HOW:
Why – Some Benefits of Two-Way Bridges:  We can help students improve their motivations and confidence, when we...
    build educational bridges from school into life to show students how they are using (and will be using) their improved problem-solving skills for "almost everything they do" in their life, because the skills they're learning in school transfer into life, helping them "make things better" in life and achieve their goals for life.  When students want to learn in school because they are learning for life, this will improve their Motivations to Learn.
    build educational bridges from life into school to show students* that in school they are not learning new skills, instead they are improving familiar skills they often use in everyday life.  This familiarity can give them confidence when they think “I've done this before in life, so I also can do it in school,” to increase their Confidence about Learning, because they believe – with a Growth Mindset – that they will “grow” (by improving their skills) when they invest intelligent effort in their learning.    {* we can "show students" by using inquiry process to teach inquiry principles, with Experience + Reflection → Principles.}
Why – to promote Transfers and Transitions:  The two-way bridges we build can improve...
    transfers of learning,  with better transfers of ideas-and-skills to different times (from past to present & from present to future) and different situations (between school-life & whole-life, and within each part of life).
    transitions in attitudes,  by improving motivations (to learn) and confidence (about learning) for a broader diversity of students, providing a wider variety of opportunities for learning in school, and success in school, to help more students develop their whole-person potentials so they will say “yes, I can do this” for a wider variety of options in their lives, in their specific career-choices and general life-choices. {iou - soon this will include "the importance of success"}  {more: thinking about "school-life + nonschool-life → whole-life" for students, when building educational bridges}
 
How – by using Broad Definitions and a Simple Model:  With broad definitions for problem (it's "any opportunity to make things better, in any area of life") and problem solving (it's "whenever you try to make things better") we can show students that "their problem-solving activities include almost everything they do in life," both inside school and outside school.  And by using my simplest model for problem-solving process — when we Define a Problem, then try to Solve this Problem with creative-and-critical thinking, by creatively Generating Ideas and critically Evaluating Ideas — we can show students how they use the same basic process to solve problems (to "make things better") in school-life and in everyday life,* so we can build connecting bridges between school and life.    { later, we can use other versions of my model to help students develop deeper understandings of problem-solving process}
 
Experience + Reflection → Principles:  * Teachers can help students discover (recognize) the problem-solving process they use in everyday life.  How?  With a process of ERP, by using a process of inquiry — with Experience (when they are solving problems) plus Reflections (on their Experiences, plus discussions with peers & teacher) that helps them learn Principles (for problem-solving process) — to teach principles for inquiry.    {more about learning by “discovery” with ERP}  {but... instead of discovering they are recognizing}
 
 

Working to Improve Education:  [[ iou - Soon (tonight, Oct 12) I'll describe my goals for working cooperatively with other educators (re: what I can add to our mix, and what they can add) in creative collaborations to develop our ideas, as introduced earlier and elaborated later. ]]

 


{three ways to explore the website}

 

Using a Problem-Solving Strategy

basic 2-Step Cycle of Problem-Solving ProcessMuch of the time during everyday life, you're just doing what you already know how to do.  Or you're learning from your experience automatically, without conscious effort, or at least without being consciously aware of using a strategy for learning.

Define and Solve:  But sometimes you can be more effective at “making things better” when you consciously use a problem-solving strategy to improve your process of problem solving, when you...  DEFINE a Problem (Learn about a Problem-Situation, Define your Objective, Define your Goals) and try to SOLVE this Problem with creative-and-critical thinking by Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a Problem-Solution that achieves your Goals) using iterative interactive Cycles of Design when you Generate-and-Evaluate-and-Generate-and-Evaluate-and... (and so on).

Timings:  During a process of problem solving, of course the actions will occur at different times – not simultaneously – so each multi-action diagram (e.g. above right & below left) is like a time-lapse photo showing “everything that happens” in the overall process, but is not a snapshot photo of what is happening at any specific time.

 

My Model for Problem-Solving Process

Why?  my Model-for-Process is designed to be accurate and useful,

    to accurately describe the process that people use when they are solving problems, and
    to be educationally useful, to help people improve their understanding-of-process and (more important) their performing-with-process when they are solving problems.

What?  my Model is a family of closely related models that are sub-models of the total-Model;  the Model is a system of models that are closely-related versions of the same Model, with each model featuring different aspects of the Model.  You can see one model above (it's the simplest, just Define-and-Solve) and another model below.  These two models show different aspects of the Model, because the same overall Model-process is being viewed from two different perspectives (by including some problem-solving actions, but not other actions) and described with two different levels of detail.     { And of course, my “total Model-for-process” is a simplification of the actual “total process” because the purpose of every simplified model-for-process is to allow our human brains – with limited capabilities for memory & processing – to cope with the complexity of the total process, letting us “make sense of it” by constructing understandings that we can use to improve our problem-solving process and problem-solving education. }

Why?  Each sub-model is accurate in different ways (because each selects different actions to include & exclude), and is educationally useful in different ways.  For example, one model (above) is useful for helping students understand connections between school-life and everyday life {so they can build two-way educational bridges} and relationships between creative thinking and critical thinking;  the second model (below) is useful for helping students understand the symmetry between Mental Experiments & Physical Experiments, and relationships between General Design & Science-Design.   /   a long-term result:  When insights from all models are combined into a Model, students can construct a deep understanding of problem-solving process.

How?  Students cannot immediately construct a "deep understanding" of problem-solving process.  A thorough construction is "a long-term result" that requires time.  Therefore the basic strategy for "how" is to use progressions of learning (beginning with simple models, then gradually increasing the complexity) so we can help students gradually construct their increasingly deeper understandings of problem-solving process.  They will understand some things quickly, and others later.     {of course, a progression of learning is necessary for everyone, for students & teachers, for me & you & others.}

 

3 Elements in 3 Comparison-ChecksThe left-side diagram shows essential mental actions that people do while we're solving problems.  While you're studying this diagram — exploring it by thinking about what each part is, and how the parts interact — also think about your own experiences and ask “what part of my problem-solving process is in each part of the diagram?”  When you're doing this you won't be discovering new actions, you'll be recognizing familiar actions that you've done many times before, because you have used these problem-solving actions in most things you do, in most areas of life.    {your options: Now you can read my description of the comparisons or – as I recommend – continue exploring the diagram by yourself, guided by the questions below.}

After awhile, you may find it helpful to think about these questions:  How do you make PREDICTIONS about what will happen?  How many ways can you get OBSERVATIONS about what did happen (in the past) and is happening (in the present)?    /    Are you ever surprised by a REALITY CHECK?  if yes, why? (you can ask different levels of why-questions)   In what ways can you respond – by thinking about possible reasons for surprise (i.e. by examining all factors involved in this Reality Check) and adjusting – so you can get a better match between your PREDICTIONS and OBSERVATIONS?    /    What are the similarities & differences between the two kinds of QUALITY CHECKS?  In the context of trying to Solve a Problem, what are your GOALS?  How does a QUALITY CHECK help you determine quality? (and what defines quality?)    /    When you compare Science-Design with General Design, in what ways are the objectives (i.e. how you're trying to make things better) similar and different?   why are different comparisons used in each kind of problem-solving design?    {there is parallel symmetry between the ways we use Experience-Information that we get from imagined Mental Experiments and actualized Physical Experiments }

interactions:  In your creative-and-critical cycles of ...Generate-Evaluate-Generate-Evaluate-Generate-... how can your critical Evaluation stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of a new Option (often made by revising an old Option) that you think might be a better match with your GOALS for a Solution, in a QUALITY CHECK?    {or might produce a better matching between PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS in a REALITY CHECK.}

explanations I've generated:  Your diagram-studying can help you develop a better understanding of problem-solving process.  And you can see some results of my studying, in my description of the 3 Comparisons and how Evaluation stimulates-and-guides Generation.

questions you can generate:  What else can you ask, and what other things can you wonder about (re: your process of problem solving) when you reflect on your personal experiences plus the verbal-and-visual information in this section?

 

tips for pics:  If the size of a diagram is too small, you can open a diagrams-page in the right-side frame` or (to make it even larger) in its own full-width tab or window;  or open this page in its own window.

 

Models and Methods

Is my model a method?  No and Yes.  No, this model for problem-solving process is not a “method” to follow with step-by-step rigidity.  Yes, the model is a framework that describes the flexible process (the flexible method) we often use while we're trying to “make things better” with productive decisions & actions.  My model-for-process is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.     {timings: each diagram is like a time-lapse photo that shows the many actions that occur at different times, not simultaneously, during a process of problem solving}

 


 

You can begin exploring the website in three ways:

 

• by seeing-and-reading a table of contents to get a “big picture” overview.   /   Later you can learn more deeply by clicking the table's links to explore and discover, but... before doing in-depth explorations you probably will want to get an overview of the main ideas,

 

• by reading a quick elevator talk about using the wide scope of problem-solving Design Thinking (it includes almost everything we do in life) to build Educational Bridges.  These bridges — from life into school, and back into life — will improve transfers of learning and transitions of attitudes.  This will help a wider diversity of students (each with their own story) improve their confidence & motivations and problem-solving skills, for better educational equity.  Basically, we can (and should) help more students improve themselves, by giving them a wider variety of experiences, and helping them learn more from their experiences.

 

• and by using this home-page, by reading its text and (to learn more about the ideas) clicking its links;  the main content...

begins with...
    a brief Website Overview,
and continues with overview-summaries about...
    Defining Our Goals  and  Pursuing Our Goals,
followed by
    my model for how we use Design Process to solve problems,
        Simplicity  +  Symmetry (with verbal/visual thinking) and
        4 Ways to Use Experiences (that come from Experiments);
    why broad definitions are useful for problem-solving education,
    Learn by Discovery (use inquiry-Process to teach inquiry-Principles),
    Combine Experience with Reflection and Principles, (why?)
    Combine Design Process with Other Models-for-Process, (how?)
and then more about the main topics.

 


 

This brief Website Overview summarizes its main ideas:
 

During my PhD project I designed a model of Science Process.  It has been generalized into a broader model of Design Process (with updated Science Process) that describes the flexibly improvised creative-and-critical productive thinking we use for doing almost everything in life when we solve problems by designing better products, activities, relationships, strategies, and explanatory theories.

This wide scope of design thinking (used for Science-Design & General Design) lets teachers coordinate design activities across all subject areas and student ages, designing goal-directed curriculum & instruction to improve ideas-and-skills in each area and to build educational bridges that promote transfers of learning (between areas and into life) and transitions of attitudes (to improve educational equity).  Students’ motivations to learn increase when they recognize the personal benefits of skillful design thinking, including its use for cognitive-and-metacognitive Thinking Strategies to improve their learning & performing & enjoying in all areas of life.

experience + principles:  I think students can learn more from their inquiry experiences (in design-inquiry and science-inquiry that's blended into eclectic instruction) if we teach inquiry principles using Design Process.*  How?  With wise guiding and metacognitive reflection plus verbal/visual explanations of Design Process` while trying to maintain flow-and-fun.   /   * e.g., We can show students 4 Ways to Use Experiences (to Use Experiments) that include Comparing Goals with Predictions or with Observations in Quality Checks (so their critical idea-Evaluation can guide their creative idea-Generation in Cycles of General Design) and Comparing Predictions with Observations in Reality Checks (used for Science-Design).

collaboration:  I want to work cooperatively with other educators, developing creative uses of Design Process to improve education for thinking skills-and-process at all levels, in K-12 through college and with informal education.

 

This summary is expanded in a longer Website-Overview.

 


 

This diagram shows 3 Elements used in 3 Comparisons.

3 Elements in 3 Comparison-ChecksWhen you're doing creative-and-critical cycles of Generate-Evaluate-Generate-Evaluate an effective way to Evaluate is to use evaluative comparisons.  How?  During a problem-solving process of General Design, usually you critically Evaluate an Option (for a Problem-Solution) by comparing your Goals (for the properties you want in a satisfactory Problem-Solution) with two kinds of Information about this Option — your PREDICTIONS (made when you imagine what will happen in the future) or your OBSERVATIONS (made when you observe what is happening in the present or you remember what has happened in the past)* in two kinds of Comparative Evaluations, in a Predictions-Based QUALITY CHECK or Observations-Based QUALITY CHECK.

Your evaluation of this option will help you decide whether to reject it or to accept it as-is;  or you can modify it by asking “in what ways do this option's properties (predicted or observed) differ from the desired properties that I have defined as Goals?” and then “how can I creatively modify This Option so its properties will more closely match the desired properties of my Goals?”  In this way, feedback from your critical Evaluation of This Option stimulates-and-guides your creative Generation of a New Option during your next Design Cycle in your critical-and-creative process of ...-Evaluate-and-Generate-... using interactive Cycles of Design.

In a similar way, during Science-Design the feedback from your critical Evaluation (in a Reality Check for an Explanatory Theory about “how the world works” for this aspect of Reality) can lead you to think this Theory should be revised.  Why?  If you are “surprised” because the PREDICTIONS (based on a Theory) and OBSERVATIONS (of Reality) don't match well, even though you think each kind of Information is reliable.  As in General Design, then you ask “how can I creatively-and-wisely modify This Theory so its PREDICTIONS will more closely match OBSERVATIONS of Reality?”    {or... instead of focusing only on the Theory, you can question ALL factors involved in the Reality Check – the Observations & Predictions, and their logical comparison – and for each of these, ask “what could cause errors that produced the not-close-enough matching?”}

 

During both kinds of problem solving — for General Design or Science-Design, when you're trying to find a better Option (that could be a better Theory) — critical Evaluative Thinking stimulates-and-guides creative Generative Thinking, in critical-and-creative Guided Generation when you modify an Old Option to make a New Option.  This often is an effective way to creatively generate new ideas, but it isn't the only way.  For example, instead of trying to modify an Old Idea so it becomes a similar New Idea that's only slightly modified, you may want to try generating a “newer” New Idea;  you can do this by trying to reduce restrictions on your thinking – by not assuming “the way things have been” is “the way things must be” – to allow a freely creative Generation of New Ideas.   {e.g. A very useful way of "not assuming" is by developing-and-using a growth mindset.}

When you effectively combine creative thinking and critical thinking with relevant knowledge, the result is productive thinking.  During a process of problem solving, generative creative thinking and evaluative critical thinking can interact in mutually supportive ways, in creative-and-critical Guided Generation and in other ways.

 

* Knowledge can be old and new, made by yourself and others:  Your OBSERVATIONS can be "made when you observe what is happening in the present or you remember what has happened in the past."  You also can use OBSERVATIONS-of-past or PREDICTIONS-for-future that are made by other people.  Thus, by combining "old and new" with "yourself and others," you can MAKE knowledge-information (OBSERVATIONS or PREDICTIONS) that is new,  and you can FIND knowledge-information that is old {is already existing} by REMEMBERING it in your personal memory or LOCATING it in our collective memory, in what is recorded {is culturally remembered} in books, web-pages, journals, audio & video recordings, etc.

 

more:  the creative process of guided generation by revision  and  four ways to use experiences.

 


 

Defining Our Goals for Teaching Ideas-and-Skills

We should design curriculum & instruction that will help students improve not just their knowledge of ideas, but also their creative-and-critical thinking skills and problem-solving process.  How?  We can...

2-Step Cycle of Design (simple diagram)
       • Show students how to combine their thinking skills (creative-and-critical) into a flexible thinking process (also creative-and-critical) that is more effective for solving problems, for "making it better" in any area of life.  We begin by helping students discover the Simplicity-of-Process [summarized in the diagram] when they DEFINE a Problem, and then to SOLVE the Problem they creatively GENERATE Options (for a Problem-Solution) and critically EVALUATE Options, in creative-and-critical Cycles of Design.
       • then, for deeper understanding, we let students see (as in Diagram 2a) the Symmetry-of-Process when they do a Mental Experiment & do a Physical Experiment to produce the Predictions & Observations they use for 3 Comparisons in evaluative Quality Checks (for General Design) and evaluative Reality Checks (for Science-Design).     { I define Experiment broadly – it's any situation that produces Experience, that allows Predicting or Observing (more) – because this is educationally useful, and so are broad definitions for problem & education. }     /     {more about Simplicity and Symmetry}   {General Design and Science-Design}
 
    • help students discover how they Use Experiences in 4 Ways and how they ask The Design Question (“how well does This Option match my Goals?”) in every Quality Check, and they ask The Science Question (“am I surprised?” if Observations don't match Predictions) in every Reality Check;  when educators do this, we help students discover (and improve) the process of thinking they use for General Design (with Quality Checks) and for Science-Design (with Reality Checks), we help them discover their essential Process-of-Thinking for Design and their essential Process-of-Thinking for Science, or simply their Thinking for Design and Thinking for Science.     {in STEM Education, The Design Question can be called The Engineering Question, because Engineering is one type of General Design}
    • design thought-stimulating inquiry activities involving science-inquiry & design-inquiry and argumentation and thinking strategies.*  We can make these activities life-relevant for students by showing them how they use design thinking for almost everything in life.*  This wide scope of design thinking lets us...
    • build integrative educational bridges to promote transfers-of-learning and transitions-of-attitudes.  We can build two-way bridges — from life into school, and back into life, spanning all subject areas (including engineering & science) — that will improve students' motivations to learn and their transfers of learning from school into life.  When these bridges improve their motivations & learning-transfers, and promote attitude-transitions, this will...
    • help a wider range of students (for better diversity & equity) improve important ideas-AND-skills that include thinking with empathy` in relationships and projects
 

Students doing Design Thinking* Students can use Design Process to develop strategies for thinking so they can more effectively regulate their cognition/metacognition (by deciding when to avoid metacognition or use it, and how) and use reflection to help them learn more from their experiences in a wide range of activities to improve their performing and/or learning (+ enjoying) in many areas of life.  One valuable thinking strategy is coordinating their thinking-and-actions by making decisions (how?) about “what to do next” during a process of design.     {another thinking strategy is using prayer for effective living with problem solving}

* I use a wide-scope definition of design thinking.  Is this justifiable? and is it useful for education?  –  What is Design Thinking? (criteria & definitions)     /     But... although I originally claimed "we use design thinking for almost everything in life" I'm now thinking that either this claim should be narrowed, or "design thinking" should be more broadly defined so it includes two interactive aspects of thinking (conscious & subconscious) that we typically combine when we're generating-and-evaluating ideas.     {i.o.u. – Soon, maybe in late 2021, these ideas will be examined more thoroughly, here. }

 

LINKS  —  This homepage has lots of links that you can choose to ignore or explore.   {most links open on the right side, so if necessary you should (why?) put this page on the left side by using the link here or in the upper-right corner of page}

 

Pursuing Our Goals for Ideas-and-Skills Education

Because we have reasons to expect that using Design Process (so we're combining experience with principles) might help us achieve our worthy goals more effectively, the possibilities for using Design Process are worth exploring and developing.  I want to collaborate with other educators so we can explore possibilities and develop our ideas, especially by developing strategies for creatively combining different models-for-process in ways that are synergistically supportive, that make a combination of models better than any model by itself.

How and Why?  We can show students how short-term sequences (in Design Process) occur within long-term phases (used in all models for process, including Design Process);  this awareness will help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking occurs in the context of these short-term actions & sequences.     {more about HOW to effectively combine structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking)}  {two sequencing-strategies for combining models}

Collaboration is necessary because although I feel skilled in some ways (like developing the ideas in this website),  I definitely need help — from those who understand the perspectives of classroom teachers more accurately & thoroughly, or are skilled story tellers or game developers, or have other kinds of useful experience and expertise — so that by working together with coordinated cooperation we can design curriculum-and-instruction that is a good match for how students like to learn (and are able to learn), and how teachers like to teach.  Here is a beginning for ideas about collaborating.     (you can contact me by e-mail – and on twitter I'm @DTprocess)

 


 

Design Process — What is it?   For a quick overview of Design Process (it's my model for Problem-Solving Process), see-and-read Stage 1` in a 5-stage family of related models that has...
 

Simplicity and Symmetry

• a Simplicity of Process:  Diagram 1` shows — in its top & bottom parts, to Define & Solve — how you Define a Problem (Learn about Problem-Situation, Define your Objective, Define your Goals) and try to Solve this Problem by simply Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a Problem-Solution) in iterative Cycles of Design.  This simplicity lets a teacher SHOW students how they use design thinking for almost everything they do in life.  This wide scope — and the simplicity of “generate and evaluate” when they solve problems — lets us build educational Transfer Bridges between life and school, with transfers (of knowledge & skills) and transitions (of attitudes) in both directions, to improve the problem-solving abilities & confidence & motivations of students, for better diversity & equity in educationDiagram 2a - showing Symmetry of Design Process Later, for deeper understanding, you can help students discover...

• a Symmetry of Process:  During their process of problem solving, students Design and Do two kinds of experience-producing Experiments (done mentally to make PREDICTIONS & physically to make OBSERVATIONS as shown on the left side & right side of the diagram) so they can Use their PREDICTIONS & OBSERVATIONS by comparing them with GOALS in evaluative QUALITY CHECKS, as you see in Diagram 2a.  In every Check-for-Quality they are asking (for the Option being evaluated) The Design Question:  “how close is the match between this Option's actual properties (that we have predicted or observed) and our desired Goal-properties?” which is asking “how high is the quality?” because Quality is defined by our Goals for a satisfactory problem-Solution.     /     When we show students this symmetry of Experimenting (done Mentally & Physically) it's an educationally useful visual organization of principles-for-process.     { We use 3 Elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) in 3 Comparisons to ask Two Kinds of Questions:  The Design Question (in a Quality Check), and The Science Question (in a Reality Check, symbolized by the yellow-green dashed line, , between Predictions & Observations). }

an option:  If a diagram is too small to see the details clearly, in this page it will span the full screen.

As explained below, students can learn by discovery to develop a deeper understanding of these principles for Design Process, for the elegant beauty they can see in its simplicity and symmetry.

 

A Family of Related Models:   My model for Design Process can be represented in many ways;  two of these are above and a third is in the introduction.  This allows educational flexibility, as in a progression of learning that begins with simplicity and gradually move into deeper understanding. {i.o.u. – The rest of this subsection will be revised soon, probably during mid-October 2021.}  Basically, a process of design is simple;  you define a problem, and try to solve the problem by creatively generating ideas and critically evaluating these ideas in creative-and-critical Cycles of Design, as described in Stage 1.  But the process is full of interesting details that you can explore more deeply in later stages.  When teachers use this progression of learning, Design Process is not just a single model, instead it's...

   All 5 stages describe the same process of design, so Stage 1 = Stage 2a = Stage 2b = Stage 3 = Stage 4.  But each stage looks at this process from a different perspective and with a different level of detail.  These perspectives produce models-for-process that are different yet related, to help you progressively construct a deeper understanding of Design Process.*   /   And for another perspective:  These models for the overall process contain smaller modes of action (that can be mental and/or physical, to Define, Generate & Evaluate, and to Coordinate) that form a semi-model.  For education, both models and semi-models are useful.   /   And we can combine principles from Design Process and other models, to construct hybrid models-for-process.

 

By combining practice (in solving problems) with principles (for solving problems)* we can help students learn how to learn more from their experiences (mental & physical) so they can improve their performing (now) and their learning (for later).     {Students can learn principles of Design Process, plus mutually supportive principles from other models-for-process.

 

Experiences and Experiments

Learning from Experience:  A worthy goal for education is trying to help students learn how to learn more from their experiences so they can improve their performing-and-learning.

Experiences and Experiments:  In my broad definition,* an Experiment is any situation that produces Experience, that provides an opportunity to get Experimental Information by making Predictions (in an imagined Mental Experiment) or making Observations (in an actualized Physical Experiment),  so an Experiment is any Prediction-Situation or Observation-Situation,  so Experiments include almost everything people do, and are involved in almost everything we experience.  Your experiences include the first-hand experiences you remember, and also the second-hand experiences that you oberve, that you see, hear about, read about.

* Why are broad definitions useful for education?

 

4 Ways to USE Experiments  (i.e. to USE Experiences)

Design Process shows the central role of Experiments (Mental & Physical)* in problem solving, when you Design Experiments so you can...

    1.  USE an Experiment (Mental or Physical) to make Information (Predictions & Observations);
        {“run” the experiment-situation mentally (by imagining it) or physically (by actualizing it)}
    2.  USE this Experimental Information to do Evaluation of an Option (e.g. of an Action, or...);
    3.  USE this Experiment-Based Evaluation to guide Generation of another Option.
 

* Mental & Physical EXPERIMENTS produce Mental & Physical EXPERIENCES , as explained above.

 

When you move your mouse over the boxes added to this diagram — 1 2 3 3 — you can see four isolation diagrams that show only the problem-solving actions for Use #1 (make Information) and Use #2 (do Evaluation) and Uses #3 (guide Generation for Science-Design & General Design).

 

In addition to 1 2 3, you can...

4.  USE the Experiment-Based Evaluation (from #2 above) to guide Generation of more Information (in #1).  This action is analogous to #3, except instead of Generating new Options (in #3) you are now (in #4) Generating new Information.   How?  You get new Information from new Experiments.  First you ask “what additional Information (Predictions or Obervations) would be useful for Evaluation?” and then, in a question to stimulate ideas for Experimental Design, “what Experiments will produce this Information?” (in 1) that you can Use in 2 & 3.

 

And viewing things from another perspective, you can...

Learn More from Your Experiments/Experiences:  using Design Process can help you learn more from your experiences so you can improve your performing and/or learning (+ enjoying) in many areas of life.

 

 

Why are BROAD DEFINITIONS useful for Problem-Solving Education?

This website begins with broad definitions — of problem {as any opportunity to make things better} and problem solving {whenever you try to make things better, in any area of life} and education {it's learning from your experiences (in all areas of life, not just in school) so you can improve, so you can be more effective in making things better} — and continues with my broad defining of experiment {as any situation that produces experience, that lets you mentally make predictions or physically make observations, so an experiment is any prediction-situation or observation-situation, which includes almost everything in your own first-hand experiences and in the second-hand experiences of others}.

By using these BROAD DEFINITIONS (of problem & problem solving, education/experience & experiment) we can help students discover that their problem-solving experiences include almost everything they do in life.  This WIDE SCOPE lets us build two kinds of educational bridges — between life & school, and between subject areas in a wide-spiral curriculum — to improve transfers (of ideas-and-skills) and transitions (of attitudes).  By building-and-using these bridges, we can help a wider diversity of students (for better educational equity) by giving them a wider variety of experiences, and showing them how to learn more from their experiences, to improve their attitudes (confidence, motivations,...) and problem-solving skills in all areas of life.

In many ways this method of learning-by-inquiry is similar to “discovery learning” for CONCEPTS, when teachers give students experiences and promote reflections-on-experience by helping them ask “what did I (or we) do, and why?”  But compared with learning external Concepts, using this method-of-learning for their own internal PROCESS can be much more effective, because a student is not “discovering” new actions, instead they are “recognizing” old actions, they are realizing that during a process of problem solving they are using actions-and-process they already know.  When teachers have constructed transfer-bridges from school into life, students will recognize that they already are using familiar problem-solving actions & process to do almost everything in their life.  Due to their prior experience, when we help them learn principles for process (as in Design Process) we are just directing their attention to their prior knowledge — of how they have been solving problems — and we're making this knowledge more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process.     {improving knowledge-of-process can lead to improving skills-with-process}

 

Each of us is a learner, and (in some situations) a teacher.  Broadly defined, you are being a teacher whenever you help another person learn more from their life-experiences, whether or not you're doing this consciously, whether or not you're doing it as your profession.  And if you are a professional teacher, you'll have many opportunities to help others learn more.   {my goal for this website is to help you teach more effectively, so == iou [to be continued]}

 

more:  It's educationally useful to combine broad definitions with the simplicity of Design Process* so we can more effectively show students the WIDE SCOPE of problem-solving experiences.  Later, when we help them learn-and-use the symmetry of Design Process (with analogous Mental Experiences & Physical Experiences) we are helping them develop a deeper UNDERSTANDING of their problem-solving process, and this Understanding also (along with Wide Scope) promotes transfers of ideas-and-skills in school* and into everyday life.

 

EXTRAS  —  The main benefits of broad definitions are summarized above.  Other benefits & broad definitions are examined in other parts of the website: 

My broad definition of strategy (it's one kind of problem-solving objective, along with products, activities, relationships, and explanatory theories) includes all of the decisions (small & large, in personal and professional contexts) that you frequently make in everyday life.

* With a broad definition of design thinking, students frequently use a creative-and-critical process of design thinking — a Design-Thinking Process (a Design Process) that is Problem-Solving Process — whenever they DEFINE a Problem and try to SOLVE the Problem by creatively Generating Options (for a Problem-Solution) and critically Evaluating Options, in iterative Cycles of Design.

If we broadly define our goals (for the performing & learning & enjoying of students) this can stimulate creativity in our goal-directed designing of curriculum & instruction.

A broad definition of engineering (even wider than in the NGSS Standards) will help us integrate education for STEM & non-STEM in a wide-spiral curriculum that will encourage more students to broaden their perspectives so they become open to “careers in STEM” when they improve their self-image, reduce the self-limitations on their personal goals, and this will improve educational equity.

 


 

Learning by Discovery

Students can use inquiry Process to discover inquiry Principles.  How?  In a 4th Level of Learning-from-Inquiry (by combining Experience + Reflection + Principles into sequences of E+R+P)* a teacher can guide students to help them use a process-of-inquiry to DISCOVER principles-of-inquiry.

* A typical ERP-sequence (with E+R+P) begins with students getting Experiences by doing design, followed by Reflections-on-experience that help them discover Principles of Design Process, with a teacher sometimes guiding students while they experience and reflect/discover.

During the process of repeating ERP over & over, eventually — but not too early, because the process of learning principles should be “ideas first” followed later by naming & organizing — a teacher can use the structure of Design Process to guide the reflections and discoveries of students.  For example,...

    students (and teachers) can study any diagram – such as the four above – and reflect on their experiences with solving problems, asking “what part of my problem-solving process is in each part of the diagram?”
   * They (and you) can study this diagram while thinking about 3 Ways We Use Experiments (search the diagram to find "using" & "Use" & "use", 8 times) and how these 3 Ways (but it's actually 8 Ways) are connected in flexibly improvised sequences.  Also, a 4th Way to Use Experiments happens when they ask “what do we want to know?  what additional information would be useful for us?” so they can Get More Experiences by Designing More Experiments.
    Then they (and you) can click areas in this Diagram 3b` and learn more by reading my explanations of what's happening in each area.     {learning by discovery and with explanations}  
 

During their teacher-guided reflections & discussions, classroom (with Students & Teachers) actively doing Design Thinking instead of “discovering” a student is “recognizing” that during a process of design they are using skills they already know, because they already have used Design Thinking to do almost everything in their life.  When students discover (when they recall-and-recognize), they are just making their own experience-based prior knowledge — of how they have been solving problems — more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process.     {learning by “discovery” is more effective for learning their own internal Process than for learning external Concepts}   {  Will improving their knowledge-of-process help them improve their skills in problem-solving Design Thinking?  Yes.  }

 

Strategies for Instruction  —  WHY and HOW

WHY should we use "experience + reflection + principles" to help students improve their problem-solving skills?     {what are the benefits of supplementing inquiry-experiences with inquiry-principles?}

HOW can we design multi-model instruction that effectively combines the benefits offered by Design Process and by other models?     {structures and strategies in problem-solving education}

 


If necessary, you can put this page into the left frame`.
Why?  Or use the link in top-right corner of every page.
[if you're viewing with an iPad that uses iOS, click here]

 

MORE — To get a more comprehensive overview, you can read Page-Summaries that include these ideas:

 

Problems and Objectives:   A problem is "any opportunity, in any area of life, to make things better,"* and  problem solving is "converting an actual current situation into a better future situation."   In a wide range of design fields that include engineering & sciences, humanities & arts, the objective is to design (to find, invent, or improve) a better product, activity, relationship, strategy, and/or explanatory theory.  These objectives include almost everything we do in life.     {* You can make things better when you either increase quality for any aspect of life, or maintain quality by minimizing a potential decrease of quality,  when you either promote a helpful change, or resist a harmful change. }

 

An Overview of Design Process describes — with a brief introduction to summarize its goals, then visually-and-verbally in five stages of a progression for learning — what it IS.*     {Simplicity & Symmetry in Design Process}

• But to avoid inaccurate stereotypes, it's also important to know what it ISN'T.  Design Process is not a step-by-step rigid method.  Instead it's a flexible framework that can help students master the typical thinking-and-actions used by experts when they solve problems.  Experts often use long-term planning, and always use short-term planning (for deciding “what to do next”) to coordinate their process of design.  Their short-term process is analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.  When we ask “Is there a method?”, why is the best answer No and Yes?     {long-term phases and short-term sequences}

 

We should think with empathy (what is it?) in projects and relationships.

Collaboration and Communication in a Productive Community

 

Success and Failure:  I have two goals for my model(s) of Design Process.  I think one goal (for accurate description) has been achieved, but another (for effective education) has not, but I think it will be later.   Why do I think this?

teacher enjoying Design Thinking

Exploring Possibilities:  Should we creatively combine ideas from different models-for-process?

Objectives for Educational Design:  I want to work cooperatively with other educators to develop instruction for teaching Design Process (along with other models?) using teacher-guided classroom activities and/or computer-based interactive modules.  But, responding to an obvious question,...

 

WHY we should teach Design Process explains why — due to benefits arising from increased motivation, transfer, metacognition, organization, and design/science connections — "using Design Process might be very useful in education, so the possibilities are worth exploring and developing."

WHY — Experience plus Principles:  When we ask “why teach Design Process?” an important sub-question is whether a well-designed combination of experience plus principles (along with reflection) will be more educationally effective than experience by itself, to help students improve their skills in creative-and-critical productive thinking and their ability to combine thinking skills into a thinking process* that is more effective for solving problems.     {* A better understanding of process-principles can help students improve their use of conditional knowledge to make action-decisions to coordinate their problem-solving process. }

WHAT — Teachers can provide their students with 4 Levels of Learning from Inquiry.  What usually happens?  Teachers often decide (for unfortunately rational reasons) to give students no experiences (or very few) with design-inquiry and science-inquiry.  Or, for reasons that are better (especially in the long term), students can get experiences;  or experiences + reflection;  or, as I think is best, experiences + reflection + principles.

HOW — While thinking about instruction, we can ask, “is experience + principles better than just experience?”  I think we should answer YES, and then ask “what model(s) of principles-for-process should we use?”,* and “how can we design goal-directed instruction that matches the ways teachers like to teach and students like to learn (and are able to learn)?”

 

HOW* We should search for effective ways to combine models, to pursue our goal of improving education for ideas-and-skills.  We should try to design curriculum & instruction that creatively combines long-term phases (used in all models-for-process, including Design Process) and short-term sequences (in Design Process)* to produce model-interactions that are synergistically supportive, that make a combination-of-models better than any model by itself.   /   Two key sequences show the Quality Checks & Reality Checks we use when Thinking for Design & Thinking for Science.

WHY — Typically, models-for-process are educationally useful in two ways, by offering structures (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking).  Each model has its own structure & strategies, so each offers its own distinctive benefits for students.  When we effectively combine the structures & strategies from two (or more) models, we combine their benefits.  We can design effective ways to combine structures, and combine strategies.

WHAT — One “strategy for combining” is showing how short-time sequences (in Design Process) occur within longer-time phases (in all models, including Design Process), to help students understand how their creative-and-critical productive thinking actually occurs in these short-time actions & sequences.   /   Two “ways to combine” are to use Design Process early-and-late, or to use it after beginning instruction with another model.  Huh? (descriptions of these two ways)

 

WHAT — More generally, Design Process (and other models) can be used in a wide-spiral curriculum because the wide scope of problem solving lets teachers use inquiry activities in all subject areas — in sciences, engineering, business, humanities, and arts, in an ideas-and-skills curriculum with wide scope — so in every area students can have analogous problem-solving experiences.  These experiences can be one part of a wide spiral curriculum that has wide scope (so related learning experiences are coordinated across different areas) and uses spiral repetitions (so learning experiences are coordinated over time).

 

HOW should we teach Design Process?  Teachers develop strategies for teaching (and coaching) that can include guiding students to help them use a process of inquiry to discover principles of inquiry.

 


Learning from Partially-Successful Experiences: 

I.O.U. – Currently (Oct 12-16) this section is being developed.  I've already written a lot about this fascinating-and-important topic, so temporarily I'll just link to these places and quote some ideas, before eventually making an overview-summary here.  Some places-with-ideas are...

Moving Beyond Simple Motivation asks “What should we do if a student is motivated, but doesn't feel confident about their ability to succeed?”  We can help students develop accuracy (in self-perception) plus optimism (about their potential for improvement and growth) with a “not yet” attitude toward failure so they can learn from all of their experiences and “do it better” in their future.   /   This optimism is easier if students have a growth mindset based on an incremental theory of intelligence — believing that their intelligence (and intellectual performance) can be improved, can “grow” through their efforts — because an "incremental" view-of-self promotes a confident belief that their efforts to self-improve will be rewarded. 

Learning from ALL Experience (from failure and success):  You can learn from ALL experience, whether you view the result as a failure or success, or (more likely) some of each. [i.e. in most areas there is a continuum-range from total failure to total success]  A feeling that “I could have done better, and I want to do better” can motivate you to reflect on what happened (the situation, your actions, the results) so you will learn more from the experience.  You can say, along with Maya Angelou, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."  And a feeling that “I did it well” can inspire you to eagerly look for more problems to solve, in school and life.

Learning from Partial Success:  We are educated when we learn from life-experiences.  We can learn from ALL experience, from both failure and success.  Below you'll find examples from my experiences (first-hand & second-hand, personal & vicarious) with solving, improvising, driving, juggling, skiing, backhanding, pronouncing, and welding.   /   iou - Soon, Oct 12-16, I'll “say a little” about each paragraph (re: solving, improvising,... welding) and there will be more old ideas (about motivated reasoning & changing-of-views) plus a few new ideas.

 


 

If you want to understand the website more thoroughly, the best way is to explore its Page-Summaries.     {and a Site-Map links to additional pages}

 


Control of iFrames:  A link at the top-right corner of each page lets you put it into the left frame or into the right frame if it isn't already there.*   Why is this useful?   Because when a page is on its proper side, the page remains visible while you explore its links, which open in the other frame;  this lets you click links without “losing your place” in the current page.   And because you can see both pages at the same time, you can more easily combine (in your thinking) what both pages are saying about related aspects of a topic;  seeing both pages is always useful, but is especially valuable for mentally combining visual & verbal information, as in the Overview of Design Process`.

* Or use the first link in every page (or occasional links later in the page) that look like this` with an extra ` at the end, as in the link above, for "Overview of...".


 

Who are we?   In this website, "we" refers to other educators:  teachers, curriculum designers, researchers, policy deciders, and parents.

Audiences:   This website is designed for educators;  parts of it may also be useful for students, but “as-is now” most of it isn't intended to be suitable for instruction.   I do want to design instruction-applications that will be useful for students (and their teachers), but to do this I will need to collaborate with other educators.

 
 

A Website for Efficient Learning

This website is large, with lots of ideas.

But I'm aiming for a high ratio of ideas/words, to help busy people like you (with lots to do and not enough time to do it) learn efficiently with a high ratio of learning/time.

I want to help you learn a lot quickly, so I'm trying to explain ideas quickly (yet clearly and thoroughly), especially in the comprehensive Executive Summary.  And to minimize duplication I've written many small pages;  each page-summary explains a cluster of related ideas, and links to other page-summaries (with related ideas) that you can choose to explore or ignore.  This structure makes it easier for you 24=- `to learn as much as you want — in 1 minute, 10 minutes, 100 minutes, or more, in whatever time you want to invest, now and later — about the combination-of-ideas you choose.

 


 

I.O.U. - Please ignore what's in this gray box until later, when (maybe in late 2021) these “rough notes for myself” will be used to write a section for an earlier part of this page.

 

stdp2 [enginrg] // short-term strategy-actions in DP, longer phases in other modelsmcpaldef cmgo

broad definitions are especially useful for promoting transfers of learning.

understanding [quote] -- ws#trorg

 

EXTRAS:

coordination -- argmtn [where?]

transition -- The educational usefulness of broad definitions is emphasized throughout this website, because broad definitions

detailed @ NGSS -- st-te.htm#map -- in the context of Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS. -- observation & prediction & experiments

EXPERIMENT -- We can stimulate the creative thinking of students — by letting them reduce restrictive assumptions about what an "experiment" is, thus encouraging them to explore this wide variety of Options for Experimental Systems — by using a simple, broad, minimally restrictive definition:

 

use earlier, for 123-4 --> MORE ---- with clear, less condensed (i.e. using more words, thus requiring less “discovery” by a reader) descriptions of 4 Ways to Use Experiments (or is it 8 ways?)* in flexibly improvised short-term Functional Sequences – and how critical Evaluation of Ideas stimulates-and-guides creative Generation of Ideas in Design Cycles & Science Cycles.

 

photos:  Soon, I want to put more pictures (of students & teachers) into this website to further “humanize” it, because Design Thinking — and education for Design Thinking — is about people with stories.     { The current photos are from DEEPdt - DEEP design thinking: a human-centered approach to learning, creating, & being through Empathy. }

 

Link for Verbal-and-Visual Overview

 

 

 
Extras:  Tips for Using This Website plus information about
the website and me (Craig Rusbult) and my Ideas for Education.

 

If you want to discuss any of these ideas,
you can contact me, <crusbult@wisc.edu> ;
Craig Rusbult, Ph.D. - my life on a road less traveled

 

URLs for the two pages in this left/right frameset are:
left side - https://educationforproblemsolving.net/design-thinking/home.htm
right side - https://educationforproblemsolving.net/design-thinking/ws.htm
frameset - https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/crusbult/web/design/index.htm

 

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