Home Page - Site-Using Tips -  open only this page  -  put page into right frame 


Design-Thinking Process in
Education for Problem Solving:

in this page (and in other parts of the website) you will find...
   Problem Solving – What is it?  
   Everything is Problem Solving:  
   what Design Process IS NOT
   and what Design Process IS *
        Simplicity  +  Symmetry
        Modes of Thinking/Action  
   Two Kinds of Design
   and what Science Process IS
   WHY teach Design Process?
      Experience plus Principles
   HOW to teach Design Process? 
   Building Educational Bridges
      How Bridges Improve Equity
   Motivating Students to Learn
   Improving Transfers of Learning 
   Curriculum Design & Adoption
      Ideas-and-Skills Curriculum *
      A Wide-Spiral Curriculum
   Science Ed Standards for K-12
   How to teach Design Process:
      Design Activities to Motivate
         Using Two Kinds of Inquiry
      Strategies to Teach Inquiry * 
      Instruction for Design Process *
      Benefits of Eclectic Instruction 
      * semi-summaries (incomplete)
      Strategies for Thinking
   Creative-and-Critical Thinking  
 The website's Home Page  
 includes Idea-Summaries, 
 Goals (Defining & Pursuing), 
Models-for-Process, 4 Ways
to Use Experience, and more.
* is Design Process the same as Design-Thinking Process?


  exploring:  You can FIND MANY FASCINATING IDEAS  
  by clicking links throughout this page and other pages 
  Learning More from Experience 
  Combining Models-for-Process  



put TABLE into left frame    why?    put PAGE into right frame
(or, if you have an iPad or small-screen device, open only this page)




   Problem Solving — What is it?    (put into right frame`)

The scope of design thinking is wide (it includes almost everything we do in life) because its objective is to solve problems, and...

  • a problem is any opportunity — in any area of life — to make things better. *

  • you do problem solving whenever you convert an actual current situation (the NOW-state) into a better future situation (a GOAL-state you want to achieve).

Problem Solving (moving from actual now-state to desired goal-state)

You define a problem by understanding “what is” in the NOW-State, and imagining “how it could be better” in a GOAL-State.


In a problem-solving project, during a process of design you Define a Problem and try to Solve the Problem by using creative-and-critical thinking to achieve the GOAL-State you have defined.     (problem solvers are solution seekers)


* Increase Quality or Maintain Quality:  You can solve a problem by “making things better” when you increase quality for any aspect of life, or maintain quality by minimizing a potential decrease of quality.   /   i.e. you can make things better than they otherwise would be (without your problem-solving actions) by making a helpful change or resisting a harmful change. }

Many Opportunities:  You can make things better by increasing quality of life or maintaining it, for yourself and/or others, in ways that are small or large, are quickly achieved or require a long-term commitment, for all aspects of life.  You have a wide variety of problem-solving opportunities, and this variety produces...


   The Wide Scope of Problem Solving     (put into right frame`)

Almost everything we do is problem solving, because a problem (when defined broadly) is "any opportunity – in any area of life – to make things better," and our efforts to do this include almost everything we do.

Objectives for Problem Solving:  You define an objective when you see a problem and you decide to "make it better."  People solve problems (by using creative-and-critical productive thinking) in a wide range of design fields — such as engineering, architecture, mathematics, music, art, fashion, literature, education, philosophy, history, science (physical, biological, social), law, business, athletics, and medicine — when their objective is to design (to find, invent, or improve) a better product, activity, relationship, and/or strategy (in General Design) and/or (in Science-Design) an explanatory theory.*  These objectives extend far beyond traditional “design fields” to include almost everything we do in life.

Of course, my five categories – product, activity, relationship, strategy, theory – are not the only ways to classify-and-label "almost everything we do" in our efforts to make things better, in our problem-solving objectives.  You may find it more useful to creatively define another set of categories.  Your set can be customized to fit your educational situation.  We want our objective-labels to make a close match with the life-experiences of students, so they will recognize the personal relevance of school activities.  We want to motivate students by showing them why they should think “what I'm learning in School-Life will help me improve my Whole-Life (= School-Life + NonSchool-Life) and I want a better Whole-Life, so I want to pursue my own Personal Education.”

* What are the similarities & differences in General Design and Science-Design?


Why do I claim that problem solving – and thus the process of productive creative-and-critical design thinking we use to solve problems – has a very wide scope that includes "almost everything we do"?  Because...

     Decision Making is Problem Solving.   [[ iou:  I'll combine-and-revise two paragraphs – this one and the one below (about strategies) – during the weekend of May 12-14. ]]
    My definition of strategy spans a wide range so it includes all strategies, in personal & professional contexts, that are involved in the many decisions (small & large) you continually make in everyday life, which often begin by asking yourself “what is the best use of my time right now” and deciding what to do now.  For example, you have strategies — based on your taste in foods, and your knowledge about foods, and whether you mainly want foods to be delicious and/or nutritious — when you decide what to eat for breakfast, with some choices more effective “making life better for you” compared with other choices.  You can improve your quality of life (now & later) in many ways, including your decisions to be personally proactive by designing strategies to improve your performing or learning of mental skills and physical skills.  And you can develop-and-do strategies for helping other people improve their quality of life.
Define Problem + Solve Problem     I also use a broad definition of design thinking, by defining it as the problem-solving thinking we use to solve problems:  you are using a creative-and-critical process of design thinking — a Design-Thinking Process (a Design Process) that is Problem-Solving Process — whenever you 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,
Whenever you want to “make it better” by solving a problem (small or large) with productive thinking, you are doing a design project.   {examples of design-objectives that span a wide range}  {e.g. one of my first major design projects was making bamboo flutes which led me into teaching music improvisation}
    And unlike some educators, I don't restrict the scope of design thinking by claiming “if the quality of creative-and-critical thinking isn't high, or if the level of empathy isn't high, then it isn't design thinking.”  {if thinking-quality or empathy-level isn't high, I say “the design thinking should be improved to make it more effective” but do not claim “it isn't design thinking”}   Therefore, my broad definition of design thinking (in my model for Design Process) is mainly descriptive (of what IS) rather than prescriptive (for what SHOULD BE).  But even though my broad definition for design thinking (in Design Process) is descriptive, much of this website is prescriptive because it's about better ways to do design and teach design.  Why?  Because the quality of our design thinking (used continually for "almost everything we do") can range from low to high, and we want to increase its quality so it will be more effective in solving problems.    {descriptive and/or prescriptive}  {is design a verb, noun, or adjective?} 
The Scope of Design:  I use broad definitions, by defining Design Process as the Design-Thinking Process that is Problem-Solving Process.  Why?  Although some other educators use a narrower definition for design thinking  —  so it's useful to ask “how should we define design thinking?  what is logically justifiable and educationally useful?  what are the benefits of each way to define?”  —  I think my broad definitions (of problem, problem solving, design, design thinking) let us offer students valuable...
Educational Benefits:  When we use non-restrictive broad definitions for design thinking, so it has wide scope, teachers can show students (by using the simplicity of Design Process) how they use a process of problem-solving Design Thinking for almost everything they do in life, including science.  This wide scope is very useful because it lets us build two kinds of Educational Bridges — between life & school, and between subject areas (in arts, sciences, engineering, business, humanities) — to increase transitions of attitudes (including motivations for learning) and transfers of learning.


Interactive Aspects of Design Thinking: 

I.O.U. – Soon, in April-May 2023, I want to examine ideas outlined in the home-page where I acknowledge that "although I originally claimed 'we use design thinking for almost everything in life,' I'm now thinking that in this claim design thinking must be defined more broadly so it includes two interactive aspects of thinking (conscious & subconscious) that we typically combine when generating-and-evaluating ideas."     { why?  Recently I've been reminded that often we make many decisions sub-consciously (not consciously) and/or by habit.  Therefore I want to carefully examine three ways people make decisions (consciously, subconsciously, by habit) and how these ways interact with each other;  one useful principle, illustrated by the process of creative incubation, is that your subconscious thinking is usually more effective when you have consciously given "your subconscious mind" useful information (e.g. by trying to understand a problem-situation, and define goals for a satisfactory solution),  so you'll often see productive interactions between aspects of thinking (levels of thinking? modes of thinking? kinds of thinking?) that are conscious & subconscious, because your conscious thinking about ideas (e.g. by understanding a situation and defining goals) can guide-and-stimulate your subconscious processing of ideas, when you are generating ideas and evaluating ideas.  Some useful insights also will come from "inner game" perspectives, A  B  C  D.}


Some objectives of this website are to explain:

WHY we should teach Design Process,

HOW to teach it more effectively;


WHAT it IS NOT, and


so we'll continue with pages about
WHY & Why+How & HOW  +  WHAT & WHAT.



   WHY should we teach Design Process?    (into right frame`)

The longer page-summary and "Experience plus Principles" (below) describe many logical reasons to conclude, with humble confidence, that "Design Process might be very useful in education, so its possibilities are worth exploring and developing."  Design Process could be "very useful" due to benefits that include improvements in students' problem-solving abilities (creative-and-critical thinking skills & whole-process skills), confidence and motivations to learn, transfers of learning, metacognitive strategies for learning-and-performing, organizing of procedural knowledge, and understanding of connections between design and science.

We use Design Thinking (in General Design and Science-Design) for almost everything in life.  Helping people think more effectively is the goal of this website.


More about WHY is in a Home-Page Summary and the full-length page (Parts 2, 3a, 3b),

and in the longer summary which explains how Design Process...

• is similar to "currently used strategies for teaching inquiry" so it's "educationally compatible" and we can design instruction with "synergistically supportive combinations [using other strategies plus Design Process] that are more effective for teaching ideas-and-skills," but

• is distinctive in some ways, so it "offers special added value for education" with a variety of benefits for students.


Can beauty indicate utility?  or improve it?

Is there any relationship between the elegant beauty (in simplicity & symmetry) of Design Process, and its potential utility for problem solving and education?  Einstein said — about his Theory of Relativity (which is actually a Theory of Constancy), before it had become generally accepted as being true — that it was too beautiful to not be true.  In a similar way,* maybe this model for Design Process is too beautiful to not be useful.  /   But in this analogy the function of elegance-and-beauty is different in a theory about nature (Relativity/Constancy) and a model of problem solving (Design Process).

And if the beauty is used creatively, to show logical organization and in other ways, could this help us improve its educational utility?


Partial Success:  I have two goals for Design Process and I think one has been achieved, but the other has not.  Which goal, and why?   Maybe the main reason for not yet achieving one goal is because most educators don't yet appreciate the mutually supportive synergism of experience-and-principles:


  WHY — Experience plus Principles  (into right frame`)

Based on evidence and logic — using what we know about thinking (cognition-and-metacognition), learning, and performing — we should expect a well-designed combination of "experience plus principles" to be more educationally effective than experience by itself, to help students improve their creative-and-critical thinking skills and whole-process skills in solving problems (for design-inquiry) and answering questions (for science-inquiry).

Here is the central question about using Design Process and/or other models-for-process.  Should we expect experience-plus-principles to be more effective than only experience?    (my response:  Yes, this seems to be “a good way to bet” when we carefully consider reasons for confident optimism and cautious humility.)


In this page-summary, after looking at 4 Kinds of Evidence we'll ask Questions about instruction that uses metacognition to improve performing+learning+enjoying, and supplementing discovery (using a process of inquiry to learn principles of inquiry) with explanation (of principles), and 4 Stages of Learning from Inquiry (by adding experience, reflection, principles).


4 Kinds of Evidence

To evaluate effectiveness, we can use evidence and logic:  experimental observations (in 1), and observation-based logical “if... then...” predictions (as in 2, 3, 4).

1) Using Observations:   In educational experiments, does observing show that instruction is more effective, or less effective, when inquiry-experience is supplemented with inquiry-principles?  in what ways does effectiveness differ?  what changes occur when inquiry-principles are taught with instruction that includes a model, instead of a semi-model or no model?  what would change if the model was Design Process?

2,3,4) Using Predictions:   2) Based on observations in educational research-experiments, How People Learn recommends that to increase transfers of learning (they call it "the ultimate goal of learning") we should teach knowledge in multiple contexts, in a form that can be easily generalized.  We can do both by using Design Process, so our logical expectation is that IF we use Design Process, THEN transfer will increase.  Using similar if-then predicting,...   3,4) Most educators acknowledge the effectiveness of using metacognition (3) and organizing knowledge (4) so we should ask “can either of these, or both, be improved by using Design Process?” and (if yes) “in what ways would this improve our educational effectiveness?”

2+3+4 plus 1:  These four kinds of evidence overlap and are mutually supportive, because the predictions are related (due to connections between transfer, metacognition, organization) and are based on observations.


Questions about Instruction

Metacognition and Performing + Learning + Enjoying:  When we're designing strategies for instruction, asking “what are the relationships between students' metacognition (with knowledge + reflection) and their quality of performing and/or learning and/or enjoying?” can help us decide “will improved understanding of design-and-science help students improve their skills in performing design-and-science?”    { If a teacher is worried that too much thinking-about-thinking may lead to “paralysis by analysis,” here is a useful principle:  Most educators think that, when used well, metacognition is valuable for improving performance and learning.  When metacognition is counter-productive the cause is unskillful metacognition, due to a lack of skill in regulating metacognition. }

Discovery plus Explanation:  Students can (and I think should) learn principles of inquiry mainly by a process of inquiry, with discovery learning — based on experiences doing inquiry, plus metacognitive reflections about experiences — supplemented by explanation-based learning in an eclectic blend.   Our teaching strategies can include opportunities for experience + reflection + principles and a progression for learning. }


4 Levels of Learning from Inquiry

With instruction activities, teachers can give students no experiences with design-inquiry and/or science-inquiry (unfortunately our education systems usually give teachers rational reasons to avoid “thinking skills” activities) or only experiences, or experiences + reflection, or (as I think is best) experiences + reflection + principles.

( no experiences with inquiry )*
1  experience   
2  experience +reflection
3  experience +reflection+principles
A teacher can say YES for each aspect of inquiry-learning, to add experience and reflection and principles.    {* Instead of “3 Levels...” the title is "4 Levels of Learning" because even in “Level 0” a student can do their own inquiry activities, inside or outside the classroom, to gain inquiry experience. }

What and How:  When asking “should we supplement inquiry-experiences by teaching inquiry-principles?”, I think the obvious answer is “yes” so instead we should ask “what principles?” and “how? using which teaching strategies? with a model, semi-model, or no model? or with a combination of models?”

Models for Process:  To help students learn process-principles for design, should we use Design Process and/or other models (or semi-models) for process-principles, or use no model?  This question is important because although I think students can learn valuable process-principles more effectively when their teacher uses a process-model, even without a model some process-principles will be taught, both implicitly and explicitly.


Reasons for Optimism and Humility

Based on evidence-and-logic, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the benefits of supplementing inquiry-experiences with inquiry-principles that are taught using a model of Design Process.

But confident optimism should be balanced with cautious humility,* specifically because Design Process has not been used in classrooms to allow observation of results, and more generally because:   for all of our questions, including these, we need more evidence from research by observing the effectiveness of instruction (of various types) in helping students learn ideas-and-skills (of various types, which is important because effectiveness will differ for achieving different goals);   and the logic will be challenging, because accurate evaluations require complex analyses of multiple factors including the kinds of experimental instruction (what was the context, what models were used, and how) and the criteria used for defining effectiveness.

* Due to the many logical reasons for confidence but also for humility, currently instead of “proof” I'm claiming “a good way to bet” for the effectiveness of supplementing experience with reflection-and-principles, and for concluding that Design Process might be very useful in education, so its possibilities are worth exploring and developing.



WHY (above) and HOW (below)

This section is copied from the homepage.  It condenses ideas from the page-summaries above (re: WHY) and below (re: HOW), but with links opening on the left side.   {so if necessary, put this section/page on the RIGHT side`}


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.   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 for solving problems.

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?” and, if yes, then “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 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.


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.

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)



   HOW should we teach Design Process?   (into right frame`)

This page-summary includes SEQUENCES - CHALLENGES - STRATEGIES.


SEQUENCES for Teaching Design Process

Effective Uses of Timing:  Within the broader context of goal-directed curriculum & instruction, two valuable teaching strategies are using a Sequence of Activities (to provide Experience before Principles) and a Sequence of Principles (to teach in a logical progression).

• A Sequence of ERP  —  By doing ERP (Experience + Reflections ➞ Principles) students...

    can do design activities to gain Experience with the process of design thinking;
    can ask “what did I/we do, how, and why?” in Reflections on their Experiences;
    can learn Principles of Design Process (or of other models-for-process) by using a process of inquiry.     {these principles can help students solve problems, and also learn how to use cognitive-and-metacognitive reflection in thinking strategies for learning more from experience to improve their learning-performing-enjoying}
In practice these related aspects of learning (in experience, reflection, principles) overlap, and discussions (in groups and whole-class) can be useful throughout a process of learning.

• A Sequence of Principles  —  A teaching strategy of progression, to help students learn in easy-to-master steps, is used by most teachers in most instruction.  Students can learn Principles of Design Process with a 5-stage progression of Models for Design Process.


Options:  These two sequences, for Activities & Principles, can be combined in many ways (as with Spiral Instruction in a Spiral Curriculum or in Whole-Part-Whole Instruction) with teachers deciding the details of sequencing and pacing.

Benefits:  When students have Experience-before-Principles — so they already have Experience by doing everything in Design Process physically-and-mentally during Design Activities, and mentally during Reflection Activities — they can more easily learn Principles of Design Process through discovery learning (guided by goal-directed Requests for Reflection to promote metacognitive reflection) supplemented by explanation-based learning.  The logical organization of Design Process — which can be learned through a five-stage Sequence of Principles — makes it easier to understand, remember, and use.


CHALLENGES for Teaching Design Process

Here are two related challenges for designing instruction that is consistent with how students like to learn and can learn more effectively:

Maintaining Flow:  During a Sequence of Activities the flow of their design-thinking should be minimally disrupted by their Reflections (on Experience) and their learning of Principles.

Promoting Fun:  Activities should be intrinsically interesting and enjoyable, for short-term fun.  And we should motivate students by showing how the ideas-and-skills they are learning "will help them achieve their goals for life," for long-term satisfaction.   {short-term plus long-term}

We also want to get a closer match with how teachers like to teach and can teach more effectively.


Using Computer-Based Instruction:  We can design computer-based activities to supplement classroom instruction, to help students understand Design Process and use it more effectively.  These activities will offer benefits for students, and also for teachers:  if students do computer activities as homework, this reduces the competition of ideas-versus-skills for use of limited time in the classroom;  a shift of some responsibility for teaching Design Process (from teacher to computer activities) will decrease a teacher's preparation time, and reduce their concerns about a drop in teaching quality.   /   MORE - One way to Develop Instruction for Teaching Design Process is using Computer-Based Instruction Activities.


STRATEGIES (and Activities) for Teaching

Old Ideas:  The teaching strategies/activities below are not new.  They have been learned from other teachers, plus my own teaching experience, and are shared with humility as reminders of what you already know, and because these familiar strategies can be useful for teaching Design Process.


To improve your effectiveness as a teacher, you can:

• motivate students to develop/improve and consistently apply their metacognitive Strategies for Thinking and help them do this more effectively;

• develop/improve and consistently apply your own Strategies for Thinking;

• develop/improve and consistently apply your Strategies for Teaching (or similar Strategies for Coaching) by using a process of design that is analogous to developing a Thinking Strategy — when you want to learn more from your experiences you PLAN,* then you do-and-observe, and continue designing in cycles of re-PLAN, do-and-observe, re-PLAN,... by using Quality Checks & Reality Checks and Quality Controls — to design Teaching Strategies for improving any aspect of your own teaching.    {Usually you want to combine pre-class planning with in-class improvising, so your PLAN includes strategies for improvising.}


Guiding and Evaluating

During any Thinking-and-Learning Activity for students, a teacher's interactions with students produce mini-activities (•) that are opportunities for thinking-and-learning.

• Guiding:  You can ask questions — about the problem, process, interesting tangents, life-applications, or... anything that might stimulate thinking — and respond to questions, gives clues, model thinking skills, and direct attention with...

• Reflection Activities:  In this type of guiding, with a reflection question (it's a reflection request) you encourage metacognitive reflection — before or after an activity, or in a low-action interlude during the activity — by directing attention to “what can be learned” from an experience.  During guided reflection, you encourage students to ask “what did I (or we) do and how, and why” and “what were the results?” and “with different actions, could the results have been better?” with teacher's-questions that are broad (open ended) or narrow (about specific thinking-actions).  Students' responses can move them from a minimally-aware mode (of just going through the motions) into a more-aware mode, converting a “hands on” activity into a “hands on, minds on” activity that is more effective for learning.  A goal-directed reflection question is designed to achieve educational goals, to help students learn more from their experiences, as in sequences of Experience, Reflection, Principles that will help students discover Principles of Design Process.  Of course, you also encourage students to do independent unguided reflection on their own.   {self-reminding and self-guided awareness}

• Adjusting the Difficulty is another important function of guiding.  During instruction activities – especially design-inquiry or science-inquiry – a teacher aims for appropriate difficulty with a level of challenge that is “just right” (as in a well-written mystery story) so students won't be bored if it's too easy, or overly frustrated if it's too difficult, so they will feel challenged but they will succeed and will enjoy the satisfactions of success.  The difficulty of an activity can be adjusted during it by a teacher's guidance, and before it by defining what students will do, and helping them prepare for the activity.   /   Strategies for AdjustingHelping Teachers find effective Inquiry Activities


Evaluation Activities are the basis for two strategies – that are used in the context of an overall teaching strategy – to provide feedback for students:

Formative Feedback:  Teachers can guide students by giving evaluative formative feedback (re: things they are doing well, and what can be improved) that is formative because it's intended to be beneficial, to help them improve, to help them "form themselves" into a better person.   {Students also generate their own formative feedback when they use metacognition to observe their own thinking, and develop Thinking Strategies for using their metacognitive self-feedback.}   {an example: Teaching/Learning/Grading in Labs}

Summative Feedback:  Evaluation Activities also are used to assign “grades” that can motivate students, and guide them during their developing of Thinking Strategies.

Feedback that is formative and/or summative (it's "and/or" due to overlaps and interactions) can be used for Goal-Oriented Designing of Curriculum & Instruction.


Educational Goals for Performing and Learning:  During a design activity the main objectives of skillful guiding — by wisely choosing the types, amounts, and timings of guidance — are to help students design productively (to improve their current performance in design thinking, so they can solve a problem now) and/or learn effectively (to improve their future performance in design thinking), to optimize the total value (in performing + learning + enjoying) of their educational experience.

Empathy-Based Regulation of Guiding:  While teaching, you carefully observe your students and think about their thinking so you can construct an empathetic understanding (of their thinking & feeling) that will help you wisely decide how to guide students (by providing external “metacognitive” feedback to supplement their own metacognition, to help them regulate their metacognitive reflection and develop their metacognitive thinking strategies) by

    asking yourself, for them, re: Strategies for Performing/Learning, “at this moment during a design activity should they be totally focused on achieving their design-objective, or should they also be aware of (or be thinking about) how they are designing?” (should they observe their process of designing?), and
    asking, for your own actions, re: Strategies for Teaching, “how can I guide (or not guide) in ways that will help students perform-enjoy-learn most effectively?” by providing educationally useful formative feedback?   {thinking with empathy}

Planning + Improvising:  Effective teaching requires a combination of careful planning and (based on real-time empathetic observations during an activity) aware improvising when you learn from current experience and adjust.   {coordinating by improvising}


Strategies (and Activities) for Coaching

Effective teaching strategies and coaching strategies are similar, with differences depending on our definitions of teaching and coaching.  The term teaching is typically used for improving knowledge and mental skills, while coaching is for skills that are physical or mental/physical or mental.

Some of the differences often claimed are that with “coaching” usually there is more emphasis on guiding — especially by providing personalized formative feedback in supportive ways that motivate students and help them develop an accurate-and-optimistic perception of self — and, in most coaching situations, promoting collaboration to improve teamwork.  But usually these coaching actions also are a part of effective teaching.

{more about coaching}



   WHAT Design Process IS NOT   (into right frame`)

An accurate understanding of my model for Design Process (or Science Process) requires knowing what it is and what it isn't.

It is flexible.  It isn't rigid.  It's analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey player, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater.  {summary & MORE about skaters, and rationally creative wandering, and tools used by mechanics & carpenters}

When we ask “Is there a method?” for Science (which is a special type of design) or General Design, why is the best answer NO and YES?

    why NO – Although the common term “scientific method” seems to imply “yes”, most scholars (scientists, philosophers, historians, educators) say NO because there is not a rigid long-term sequence of steps that is used in the same way by all scientists, in all areas of science, at all times.
    why YES – But with a less restrictive definition of method, we can say YES because expert scientists (and designers) tend to be more effective when they use flexible-yet-systematic strategies for problem solving — like those in my models of Science Process (and Design Process) — to stimulate & coordinate their thinking-and-actions in productive ways.

Re-Thinking Rigid Stereotypes:  Productive educational uses of all models-for-process, including my model for Design Process,* can be hindered by inaccurate stereotypes (misconceptions) of “what a process-model must be,” based on experience with inadequate models that are too simplistic and rigid.  Without a careful examination of stereotypes, educators may conclude that models should never be used when teaching science-inquiry or design-inquiry.  But instead of thinking “some previous models were not educationally useful, so let's avoid models” we should try to construct better models, and that has been my goal in developing Design Process.  The main reason to avoid saying "let's avoid models" is that what educators don't like (oversimplistic rigidity) is what Design Process is not, as explained below.

* My denial (of "inaccurate stereotypes" about "oversimplistic rigidity") also applies to Other Models-for-Process.


Non-Rigidity and Non-Uniformity:  When we observe expert designers in a variety of design projects, in a wide range of fields, we see flexible improvising (because their process of design is not rigid), and (because their process is not uniform) no “universal strategy” is used by all designers in all situations.  Therefore, I've made sure that both of these — not rigid, and not uniform — are essential characteristics of Design Process.

Design Process is not rigid.  It isn't a rigid sequence of steps.  Instead, it views a process of design as a system of functionally related actions (mental & physical) organized into sequences of actions with options-for-branching that allow actions to be flexibly-and-skillfully coordinated.  You coordinate your actions by using coordination strategies based on metacognitive awareness (of the current situation) and conditional knowledge (of how to achieve problem-solving progress) so you can make action-decisions about "what to do next" during a process of design.

Design Process is not uniform.  The process-flexibility of Design Process, explained above, lets it cope with three kinds of non-uniformities, because it can be used to describe many types of design (across a wide range of fields including science)* and many views of design, and (with its family of related models) many levels of complexity, beginning with simplicity but allowing deeper explorations.  This process-flexibility allows instruction-flexibility, so — especially when we view a model of Design Process as a combination of its framework and supplements — teachers can use it in many teaching strategies, personally customized for their own situation (re: level of students, culture of school & community,...) and educational philosophy (re: goals for students, types of instruction,...).

* When instruction "across a wide range of fields" uses Design Process to help students learn principles-for-process (why is this useful?), we increase their transfers of learning because they are learning skills-knowledge (for productive thinking in many modes of action during a process of design) "in multiple contexts... in a form that can be easily generalized."


The longer page-summary explains how a single model of Design Process can be used in many teaching strategies to describe many types and views.



   WHAT Design Process IS   (into right frame`)

Goals for Design Process:  My model of Design Process – which includes Science Process because science is a special type of design – is intended to be useful for description (to accurately describe the problem-solving process of design) and for education that will help people, in schools & outside, improve their understanding and (more important) their performing, so they can

understand, more accurately & thoroughly, the process of thinking-and-action they use in design and science;

perform, more effectively, when they are solving problems (in design) and answering questions (in science).

{more about these goals - which also are goals of other models-for-process}


What is Design Process?  For a quick overview, see-and-read Stage 1` in a family of related models.  The verbal/visual diagrams for Design Process show you how it has...Symmetry - Diagram 2a Diagram showing Symmetry of Design Process

Simplicity and Symmetry:

• The simplicity of Design Process — when you Define a Problem and then try to Solve this Problem by simply Generating-and-Evaluating Options (for a problem-Solution) in iterative Cycles of Design — lets us SHOW students (in Diagram 1 & Stage 1) how they use design thinking for almost everything they do so we can build educational Transfer-Bridges between life and school to improve confidence and motivation, for better diversity & equity.

• A symmetry-of-actions occurs when students Design and Do two kinds of Experiments (done mentally to make Predictions & physically to make Observations) so they can Use their Predictions & Observations by COMPARING them with Goals in evaluative Quality Checks, asking “how close is the match?” which is asking “how high is the quality?” because Quality is defined by their Goals for a satisfactory problem-Solution.  As explained below, students can learn by discovery to develop a deeper understanding of these principles for Design Process.

Maybe you'll see an elegant beauty in both ways, in basic simplicity and also the coherent symmetry of mental-and-physical experimenting.   /   Is there a connection between aesthetics and function? (and can we use beauty to improve utility?)

more – An expanded outline of Simplicity and Symmetry in Design Process (it's still brief, but with more details) is in the website's Home-Page.


Four Stages for Simplicity and Depth:   Design Process can be explored in a 4-stage progression of learning that begins with simplicity and gradually moves into deeper understanding.   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...

A Family of Related Models:   All stages (1 2 3 4) and all models (including 1b & 3a/3b plus 10 Modes) describe the same process of design, so Stage 1 = Stage 1b = Stage 2 = Stage 3a = Stage 3b = Stage 4 = 10 Modes of Action.  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.

What are the best models?   To show simplicity and symmetry my favorite models are Stage 1 (with Diagram 1) to show simplicity, and Stage 3 (with Diagram 3b) which builds on Stage 2a.  I also like the semi-model with 10 Modes of Action.   /   Of course, to define "best" we must ask “best for achieving which goals?”  Stage 1 is sufficient to motivate students by building bridges between school and life and for designing a wide-spiral curriculum with large transfers of learning.  But all of these become better by adding Stage 3b because it will help students understand-and-improve their thinking skills (like critical-and-creative guided generation and scientific reasoning) and it shows how science is a special kind of design so teachers can build bridges to promote transfer between engineering-design and science-design.   /   I also like Stage 2b (with Diagrams 2b and 2c) because it offers a different perspective on the same process of design.  It shows how we learn from experience and it connects Design Process with the field of metacognitive Self-Regulated Learning (and with the long-term phases in other models) so it's especially useful when we design Strategies for Thinking to improve Performing and/or Learning in many areas of life.

Flexibility in Teaching:   This family of stage-models can be used in a sequence to teach principles.  Teachers can design different activities at each stage, perhaps by using a whole-part-whole approach to "let students sometimes focus on parts... and at other times do the whole process."  As students move through the stages in a progression of learning, they will understand more deeply.


Options:   You can read the 3 paragraphs below, about teaching and learning, or skip ahead to Stage 1.

Two Sequences for Teaching:   We should teach Design Process using a sequence of principles (as in this 5-stage progression) and a sequence of activities (experience + reflection ➞ principles) that provides experience-before-principles, so students can connect their personal experiences and the logical principles of Design Process.

Learning by Discovery for Students:   When students discover principles of Design Process, they are using a process of inquiry to learn principles of inquiry-process.  These discoveries are easier when teachers guide students with reflection requests (before, during, and after an inquiry activity) to build educational bridges for transfers of learning from life into school.  Carefully guided reflections (as in these examples) can help students realize that during a process of design they are using skills they already know because they have used design-thinking for almost everything in life.  They already know the basic principles of design — due to their many prior experiences of using design-thinking in everyday life (when they Generate Ideas & Evaluate Ideas) and in school (with Spiral Instruction in a Wide Spiral Curriculum) — so with "discovery" they are just making their own prior knowledge more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process. (do students recognize principles, and/or construct them, and/or discover them?)  We can build on the foundation of what students already know, consistent with constructivist theories of learning.

Discovery + Explanation:   This discovery learning — which in my opinion is extremely useful (and time-practical) for learning Procedural Skills-Knowledge — can be supplemented with explanation-based learning to produce an eclectic blending of instruction.  For example,...

Verbal-Visual Discovery plus Explanations:  After students have learned (by using experience + reflection/discovery + explanations ➞ principles) individual Principles for Problem-Solving Process, they can study a diagram — first 1, then 2a, 3a-3b, 4a-4b or 2b-2c — while asking “what part of the problem-solving process is in each part of this diagram?”  This learning by discovery also involves learning from explanations in two ways:  students are learning a verbal/visual system-of-principles developed by me, not by them, although during previous reflections-on-experience they could discover/construct a similar system for themselves;  a teacher can combine this learning by discovery (when students study diagrams while asking "what part...") with learning from explanations when the teacher explains, or if students use diagrams with comments or if they click on areas of Diagram 3b and read my descriptions.     { I.O.U. - Later, I will write explanations, or questions-plus-explanations, that are more useful for students.  The current explanations are intended mainly for teachers. }


Learning by Discovery for Teachers:  While a teacher is designing activities to stimulate thinking-and-learning for their students, they will be stimulating their own thinking-and-learning for a wide variety of ideas-and-skills, including principles of Design Process.  Learning by discovery is not just for students, it's also for teachers and others, for everyone.



• Stage 1 — Cycles of Design

The first of five stages in a progression for learning begins with the Simplicity of Design Process:Simplicity - in Diagram 1

The top and bottom parts of Diagram 1` (labeled "Define" and "Solve" on its right side) show a problem-defining process — "Learn more so you understand [a problem-situation] more accurately-and-thoroughly, Define your Objective and Define your Goals for a Solution" — and a problem-solving process when you "GENERATE-and-EVALUATE in iterative Cycles of Design", when you creatively "GENERATE Options" [for a problem-solution, or for experiments that help you "learn more"] and critically "EVALUATE Options".  These basic principles of Design-Thinking Process (= Problem-Solving Process) are used for almost everything we do.

Define and Solve:  First you Define a Problem by Learning (by finding information & understanding with empathy) so you'll know “what is” now, so you have a foundation-in-reality for imagining “what could be” and wisely Defining an Objective & Defining Goals for a Solution.  Then you try to Solve the Problem by using Design Cycles of Generate-and-Evaluate.  But there is...

Flexibility in Timing:  Defining and Solving are not rigid “steps” because Design Process is not rigid.  It's analogous to the flexible goal-directed improvising of a hockey skater, but not the rigid choreography of a figure skater, because overlaps-in-timing occur with a mixing of interactive modes.  This is why Diagram 1 has two arrows, , between its top and bottom parts, between the long-term phases of Define a Problem (Learn, Define, Define) and Solve the Problem (Generate, Evaluate).  These two arrows show that although the actions in Define a Problem usually occur early in a process of design (symbolized by the down-arrow being larger), any of these actions — especially to Learn more, but also to re-Define Goals (if this seems useful while you're Solving the Problem, as when you “recognize what you want when you see it” or imagine it) or to re-Define your Old Objective by revising it — also can be done later.  Or you may want to Define a New Objective (that is "New" because it's very different than your original Old Objective) so you have Defined a New Problem, either instead of the Old Problem or in addition to it.


ITERATION in Cycles of Design:  You use creative thinking to GENERATE ideas-for-Options (that are potential Solutions for the Problem) and use critical thinking to EVALUATE these Options.  You continue creative-and-critical thinking in iterative Cycles of Design, hopefully moving closer to a satisfactory Solution, until you decide to accept one Option (or more than one) as a Solution, or you delay work on the project, or abandon it.

The analogous Cycles of Science are in Stage 3.


Cycles within Cycles:  In a model for Design Process that views the same process from a different perspective, Cycles of Generation-and-Evaluation operate within Cycles of Plan-and-Monitor, as explained in Stage 2b.

Design Process - Models and Modes:  You can see relationships between models (in Stages 1, 2a, 3) and a semi-model (with 10 Modes of Thinking-and-Action) in these diagrams`.



• Stage 2 — Quality Checks

Diagram 2` shows that in each Cycle of Design you CHOOSE an Option, and EVALUATE this Option.   How do you evaluate?  You have defined Goals (they're the properties you want in a Solution) so you ask “how closely do the properties of this Option match the properties I want?”

Symmetry - Diagram 2a

• You imagine using this Option in a Mental Experiment and make mental Predictions (logical expectations) so you can mentally COMPARE these Predictions (expected properties) with your Goals (desired properties) in a Predictions-Based Quality Check.

• Or you actually use this Option in a Physical Experiment and make physical Observations (of what really happens) so you can mentally COMPARE these Observations (observed properties) with your Goals (desired properties) in an Observations-Based Quality Check.

Quality is defined by Goals:  In each evaluative Quality Check, an Option's overall quality is defined by your GOALS, which are the properties (characteristics + constraints) you want in a Solution.   {of course, "the same Goals are used for both kinds of Quality Check"}

Thinking with Empathy:  In all modes of design-thinking action – but especially when you "Choose an Objective" and "Define your Goals for a [satisfactory] Solution" – it's important to think with empathy (based on Learning that lets you "understand better, with empathy") so your Solution will meet the needs of those you want to serve.   {is empathy required for all objectives?}


To begin a Cycle, Creative-then-Critical:  On the left side of the red oval, a downward arrow shows that you first creatively Generate Options, and then Choose an Option so you can critically Evaluate this Option, to begin your Cycle of Design.

To complete a Cycle, Critical-and-Creative:  On the right side of the red oval, an upward arrow shows that you can begin your next Cycle of Design by using feedback from critical Evaluation to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of Options, in a critical-and-creative process of Guided Generation.

Or, by ignoring the feedback from critical thinking, you can view the process as a simple chronological progression-in-time:  Generate, Evaluate, Generate, Evaluate, Generate,...


The 5 paragraphs below are related to Stage 2.  Or you can go directly to Stage 1b or 3.


Design-and-Do and Use/Use an Experiment:  When you Design an Experiment, you Choose an Option and Choose a Situation (in which to use the Option) so you'll have an Option-in-a-Situation that is an Experimental System.  Then you can Do a Mental Experiment (by imagining what will happen in the Experimental System, so you can make Predictions) or you can Do a Physical Experiment (by actualizing the Experimental System, by “running the experiment” in reality, so you can make Observations) and Use the experimental results (Predictions or Observations) in a Quality Check.  Then you can Use the experiment-based Quality Check to ask “should I revise the Option?” in critical-and-creative Evaluation that stimulates & guides Generation during a Design Cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate-and-Generate-and-Evaluate-and....

SYMMETRY in 2 Kinds of Experiments - Mental & Physical:  An educationally valuable feature of Design Process is the “parallel relationship” between mental experimenting & physical experimenting (used in Quality Checks that are prediction-based & observation-based)*, as you can see in Diagrams 2a and 3a, 3b, 4a-4b.  Both kinds of Quality Checks are done mentally when you "COMPARE..." but there is a difference in the sources of evidence-information used to determine Quality, because you can COMPARE Goals-for-Quality with Predictions or Observations that are produced by experimenting Mentally or Physically.

Logical Organization:  Many educational benefits are produced by logically organizing principles of design (as in Design Process, with mental & physical on the left & right sides) to show the functional relationships between modes of creative-and-critical thinking.  You can find many other kinds of verbal/visual organization by studying the diagrams and searching for patterns.   {also, a description of verbal/visual integration in Design Process}


* a choice of terms:  My diagrams describe Quality Checks as "Predictions-Based" or "Observations-Based", but you also can say (without the s) that it's "Prediction-Based" or "Observation-Based".  Why?  Because a process of Prediction [or Observation] produces a result of Predictions [or Observations].  I think it's most useful to define a Quality Check by the results (Predictions or Observations) that are compared with Goals, but you also could define it by the result-producing process (Prediction or Observation).


Helping Students Discover Principles:  In each stage, students can discover principles of Design Process.  A teacher can facilitate this learning when they guide students with Reflection Requests that promote Metacognitive Reflection.  Encourage them to ask “what did we do and how (e.g. while they are trying to solve a problem, in each Design Cycle of Generation-and-Evaluation they make Predictions or Observations that they COMPARE with their Goals), and why (so they can evaluate the quality of an Option, with quality defined by their Goals).”  In this way, students first understand the concepts and functional relationships.  Then a teacher can explain the terms-for-concepts and representations-of-relationships — both verbally (as outlined in this section) and verbally/visually (in Diagrams 1 & 2a) — and the logical organization of thinking-and-actions in a model of Design Process.  Or they can discover the logical structure of Design Process by studying a diagram while asking “what part of my problem-solving process is in each part of this diagram?”  During their explorations you can ask guiding questions, including “what is the dotted yellow-green line in 2a?” and then “what can you learn by comparing your Predictions and Observations?”


Multiple Quality Checks ➞ Quality Status:  In all stages of a progression for learning (here in 2, and in 1, 3, or 4) you use Quality Checks to estimate an overall Quality Status (that can range from low to high) for each of the Options being considered.  How?  You combine multiple Evaluations (old and new) from multiple Quality Checks (Prediction-Based & Observation-Based) that COMPARE many Predictions & Observations (from many Experiments) with many Goals — so “all things are considered” — for each competitive Option, in Evaluation that is Argumentation to help you make tough decisions about Choosing an Option.    {Multiple Checks are used in General Design and Science-Design}

Creative Analysis:  You can use analysis-and-revision (a thinking strategy to help you creatively Generate Options) by COMPARING the features/properties of an Option with Goals AND with other Options.

Multiple Iterative Cycles:  When you're comparing many Options, your iterative Cycles of Design will involve many Options.  But each cycle will feature only the Option you choose.  In a series of cycles, you can focus on one Option for awhile, or shift your attention from one option to another.

Designing an Optimal Solution:  When you have "many Goals" usually there is tough competition because different options offer different benefits, with some Options being better for some Goals (i.e. some Goal-criteria) but not other Goals.  Therefore you must set priorities (by defining the importance of each Goal) and use trade-offs (by more effectively achieving some Goals at the expense of others) to design an optimal Solution that is best, when all things are considered, for achieving an overall combination of your prioritized Goals.


Using Multiple Checks in General Design and Science-Design:  Section 3 compares General Design with Science-Design.  For either kind of designing, you should use Multiple Checks – for Quality or with Reality – when it's possible.  You can check for Quality (by using Quality Checks during General Design) and/or check with Reality (by using Reality Checks during Science-Design):

    in General Design, you use multiple Quality Checks to estimate the Quality Status of all competitive Solution-Options, for many Quality-Factors;
    in Science-Design, you use multiple Reality Checks to estimate the Predictive Accuracy of all competitive Model-Options, for many Experiments.


Reducing Ink-Expenses for Your School:  To reduce your use of expensive colored ink, you can print diagrams that are black-and-white without shading.  With these, one thinking-and-learning activity is to have students colorize their diagrams, after experience plus reflection & discussion helps them discover principles of Design Process.    {comparing black-and-white with colored`}



• Stage 2b — Cycles within Cycles

here a key idea is the importance of doing a Physical Experiment (by Actualizing the Option so you can Observe what happens) instead of just doing a Mental Experiment (by Imagining what will happen, to make Predictions).


Other Models:  This stage is most similar to the functional phases (of Mental Ideation plus Physical Testing) in other models-for-process, as explained below.*

Using "cycles within cycles" is just a new way to look at Stage 2a, so I call it Stage 2b instead of Stage 3.  Although each stage introduces new ideas, during the actual real-life using of a new model there are no new problem-solving actions (mental and/or physical) because in a family of models for Design Process "all stages describe the same process of design."  But Stage 2b does offer a new perspective by showing how basic cycles (to GENERATE-and-EVALUATE) operate within broader cycles (of PLAN-and-MONITOR) when you learn from experienceCompared with Stage 2a, the perspective of Stage 2b places more emphasis on learning from new experience by using new Observations,* which are produced during MONITOR when you Choose an Option to Use (to Actualize) so you can do a new Physical Experiment and observe what happens, and learn from this new experience.    { Comparing Diagrams 2a and 2b/2c` will let you discover principles for a process of design. }

* Stage 2b emphasizes the importance of Physical Experimenting, because Observations are usually more reliable than Predictions.   In the other four stages (1, 2a, 3, 4) there is no special emphasis on either Mental Experimenting or Physical Experimenting, because each is valuable in a typical process of design.  Of course, when using any model (for Stage 2b or 1, 2a, 3, or 4) a teacher can emphasize the reliability, and thus the value, of Observations (from Physical Experimenting) when helping students discover principles of Design Process.

* Most other models-for-process also (as in Stage 2b) describe “mental” and “physical” phases in which the main design-actions are mental Generation-and-Evaluation (to PLAN, using Mental Ideation) and Physical Experimenting (in MONITOR, with Physical Testing);  other models also "emphasize the importance of Physical Experimenting [Physical Testing]" that with quick-and-easy experiments is called Prototyping.  Stage 2b is almost identical to the common models for metacognitive Self-Regulated Learning.


MORE - Now or later (maybe after Stages 3 & 4), you can see Stage 2b illustrated by learning from experience to develop-and-apply Strategies for Thinking.  This model of learning from experience is useful for both General Design (when the problem-solving objective is to design better Strategies for thinking or for other purposes, or Products, Activities, Relationships) and Science-Design (to design better explanatory Theories).



• Stage 3 — Design Cycles and Science Cycles

3 Elements used in 3 Comparisons3 Comparisons:  Diagram 3a [at right] shows 3 Elements of Design (PREDICTIONS, OBSERVATIONS, GOALS) being used in 3 Comparisons for Design:  two Comparisons are the evaluative QUALITY Checks (Prediction-Based & Observation-Based) used in the Design Cycles of Stages 1 and 2a;  the third Comparison is an evaluative REALITY Check that is used in a Science Cycle.   These 3 Comparisons — producing 3 Checks for Quality & Reality, that are used for Evaluation in 3 Cycles - 2 using Quality Checks, 1 using Reality Checkthe Design Cycles & Science Cycle you can find in Diagram 3b` [at left] — arise naturally from our logical uses of the 3 Elements, from using (in 3 Comparisons) the Predictions & Observations and Goals.  This logical relationship is one reason that viewing Science as a special kind of Design can be educationally useful.     { Two Kinds of Design - in Stage 4 }

3 Cycles:  In Diagram 3b (above left) you see two Design Cycles (each using a Quality Check, "use QC" asking "revise Option?") and one Science Cycle (using a Reality Check, "use RC" asking "revise Model?").  Diagram 3b shows how critical Evaluation (from a QC or RC) can (when you "use QC" or "use RC") guide your creative Generation (when you ask "revise?").


Symbolism of Colors:  Diagrams 1 and 2a show the Cycle of Design that occurs when you GENERATE-and-EVALUATE.  In Diagram 2a the blue box around "EVALUATE this Option" and the blue box around each evaluative QUALITY CHECK are the same blue color.  But in Diagram 3b "EVALUATE this Option" is inside a greenish-blue aqua box because you can EVALUATE by using either a REALITY CHECK (in the yellow-green box when you compare yellow Predictions with green Observations) or a QUALITY CHECK (in the blue boxes).


REALITY CHECK:  The main goal of Science is to explain what happens, usually by constructing a theory-based explanatory Model for “how the world works” – trying to explain what is happening, how, and whyDiagram 3b (in the part you see below) shows how a Reality Check is used in Science.  On the left side, in a Mental Experiment (using Model + Logic) you make Predictions.  On the right, in a Physical Experiment (using Observation Detectors) you make Observations.  Then, in a Reality Check you COMPARE Model-based Predictions with Reality-based Observations to see how closely they match, to check the accuracy of Predictions (the Predictive Accuracy) for a Model-Option that could be used in a Model-based Explanation for what is happening:

only basic Science Process
Science Cycles:  In a Reality Check,* you COMPARE “the way you think the world is” (according to your theory-based explanatory Model) and “the way the world really is.”  Then, as shown in the diagram, you can Use the Reality Check in a Science Cycle if you ask Revise Model? and use critical Evaluation to guide creative Generation.  When you ask “should I revise, or not revise?”, usually Predictive Accuracy (for the Model being used) is the most important Goal-criterion that is being used to evaluate the quality of competitive Options for a Model, although other factors also are considered.   In this paragraph, and in the diagram above, can you find 3 (or 4) Ways to Use Experiments?   /   terms:  a Reality Check also could be called a Prediction Check or (because a Model is used when making Predictions) a Model Check, but more commonly it's known as Hypothetico-Deductive Logic or just Scientific Logic.

a clever idea that I borrowed-and-modified:  The rectangular shape of my diagram, to show how Predictions & Observations (in two columns) are compared in basic scientific logic, comes from an excellent book – Understanding Scientific Reasoning – by a prominent philosopher of science, Ronald Giere.   {originally the shape was just borrowed, then I extended-and-modified it in many ways}  {a visual history of my diagrams, 1992-2015 [iou - later I'll find this page and will link to it]}


QUALITY CHECKS (Predictions-Based or Observations-Based) occur when – as in Diagrams 3a & 3b or 3c – you mentally COMPARE an Option's Properties (Predicted or Observed) with the Desired Properties that you have defined as Goals for a satisfactory Solution or a satisfactory Model.  You use a Quality Check to evaluate the Quality of an Option, with quality defined by your Goals.  Then


Multiple Checks (for Quality, or with Reality) should be used, when it's possible:

    use multiple Quality Checks to estimate the Quality Status of all competitive Solution-Options, for many Quality-Factors;
    use multiple Reality Checks to estimate the Predictive Accuracy of all competitive Model-Options, for many Experiments.


A Science Cycle:  The main Use of a Reality Check is when you ask “is this Model satisfactory, or (when you use the Reality Check, abbreviated "use RC" in the diagram) should it be revised so its Model-based Predictions will be a closer match with Reality?”  Or you may want to revise the way you're using your Model(s) to make Predictions.   /   Diagram 3b` shows four elements — Mental Experiment, Prediction, Reality Check, Revise Model? — that form a Science Cycle, aka a Cycle of Science.

Two Design Cycles:  Diagram 3b also shows two kinds of Design Cycle (aka Cycle of Design) on the left and right sides, when you Use evaluative feedback from a Quality Check (based on the results of Mental Experimenting or Physical Experimenting) to help you Generate Options.  As in Diagrams 1 and 2a, in Diagram 3b the Design Cycle of GENERATE-and-EVALUATE (symbolized by a purple oval) has two arrows, ↓ and ↑ , on its left and right sides.  Why?  After you "GENERATE Options" and "Choose an Option" to evaluate, you then (↓) mentally "EVALUATE this Option" with Predictions-Based Quality Checks and/or Observations-Based Quality Checks, and then use this evaluative feedback (use Quality Check, abbreviated "use QC") when (shown by ↑ on the oval, plus two blue arrow-lines labeled "Design Cycle") you ask "revise Option?"* and you "GENERATE Options" to begin a new Cycle of Design.   /   The "?" in "revise Model?" and "revise Option?", and the 3 dashed lines, are reminders that revision is an optional choice.  Each time you Generate Options, you can decide whether to retain an Option as-is, or (with Guided Generation) revise it, or invent a new option.


GENERATIVE Thinking and EVALUATIVE Thinking:  While you are solving a problem, your creative Generative Thinking will be stimulated-and-guided by your critical Evaluative Thinking.  How?  A simple cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate is the key feature of Diagram 1`.  This cycle is shown with more detail in Diagram 3b with 3 Cycles (Design Cycle, Design Cycle, Science Cycle) in which you Generate-and-Evaluate Options for a Solution (in General Design) or a Model (in Science-Design).  After you creatively Generate Options, you Choose an Option so you can critically Evaluate this Option.  You evaluate by COMPARING 3 Elements in 3 Ways to do a Quality Check (using Predictions OR Observations to determine the Quality of a Solution-Option, for General Design) or a Reality Check (using Predictions AND Observations to determine the Predictive Accuracy of a Model-Option, for Science-Design).

Generative (creative) Thinking and Evaluative (critical) Thinking interact productively during...

GUIDED GENERATION (by REVISION) in Creative-and-Critical Cycles:  Interactions between iterative Cycles of Design occur — with creative Generation guided by critical Evaluation — when a Quality Check inspires you to ask “in what ways do this option's properties (predicted or observed) differ from the desired properties that are defined as Goals?” and ask (as in Diagram 3b) whether to "revise Option?", when you Evaluate this Option and use critical feedback to stimulate-and-guide your thinking, to help you creatively Generate Options (for a Problem-Solution) in the next Design Cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate.  Similarly, in a Science Cycle the evaluative feedback from a Reality Check can lead you to ask "revise Model?", to stimulate-and-guide your Generation of Options (for an explanatory Model) in the next Science Cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate.  When you use Guided Generation-by-Revision, your creative Generation of a revised Model (or a revised Option, or revised Experiment) occurs by a process of creative Retroduction that combines the if-then logic of Deduction with imaginative creativity, when you quickly “test” new ideas by using Mental Experiments.    { You also can use 4 other strategies to creatively generate ideas, including a Free Generation of Ideas that is compatible with Guided Generation. }


Sequences in Design:  Do we use sequences during a process of design?  The answer is “No and Yes” because there is no rigid step-by-step sequence of actions that is always used (therefore it's No), but (Yes) some combinations-of-actions are commonly used because a sequence can be productive.*  For example,

Two Sequences for Design-Do-Use:  As shown in Diagrams 2a and 3b`, the two kinds of experimenting you do - mentally & physically - are a focus of action because you Design and Do Experiments to produce information (Predictions & Observations) that you Use for Evaluation when you COMPARE in Quality Checks and Reality Checks, which become part of Design Cycles and Science Cycles with Guided Generation.

* No and Yes are both important, the "No" for knowing what Design Process IS NOT and "Yes" for understanding what it IS.


Experimental Design:  Stage 4 examines the process of Designing an Experiment so you can "Design and Do" a Mental Experiment or Physical Experiment.


In this diagram you can see relationships between two models — Stage 3 and 10 modes of action — in a family of related models for Design Process.



• Stage 4 — Deeper Understanding

GENERAL Design and SCIENCE-Design:  Science is Design` and it's useful to think about two kinds of problem solving (already seen in Stage 3 but now with a closer examination of their similarities & differences) that have similar process but different objectives.  On the upper-left side of Diagram 4a`, in General Design you Generate-and-Evaluate Options for a Solution when your objective is to design a better product, strategy, activity, and/or relationship.  On the upper-right, in Science-Design (in Science) you Generate-and-Evaluate Options for a theory-based explanatory Model when this is your objective.

During both kinds of problem-solving design thinking, when you are pursuing your objective in General Design or Science-Design, a central activity is...



In Diagram 4a` the central area (in the white box, asking "How?...") briefly outlines the process of Experimental Design, when your immediate objective — which usually is a sub-objective that you pursue because it will help you achieve your main objective of designing a better product, activity, strategy, or relationship (in General Design) or a better explanatory model (in Science-Design) — is to design an experimental system that will be useful, that will help you achieve your main objective of solving your problem.  Diagram 4b describes, with more detail, what an Experimental System is:

    in General Design it's an Option-in-a-Situation that is a Solution-Option operating in a Situation, so {as described in Diagram 4b, below} it's an "operation-Situation for a Solution-Option" that can be used in a Mental Experiment to make Predictions, or in a Physical Experiment to make Observations;  and...
    in Science-Design it's a Model-Using Situation that {in 4b} is an "application-Situation for a Model-Option", a Situation in which a Model-Option can be used (applied) in a Mental Experiment to make Predictions, or in a Physical Experiment to make Observations.

Imagine Mentally and/or Actualize Physically:  With experiments, you design so you can do.  The purpose of this Experimental Design (by Generating-and-Evaluating), as shown in the central part of Diagram 4b, to help you "choose an Experimental System that you can run mentally and/or physically" when you "imagine in a Mental Experiment" and/or "actualize in a Physical Experiment,"

diagram for Design-and-Do Experiments

Design-Do/Use-Use-Use:  Diagram 2a shows how you Design an Experiment so you Use it (when you “run the Experimental System” in a Mental Experiment or Physical Experiment) to generate Information (Predictions or Observations) that you mentally Use by COMPARING with Goals in a Predictions-Based Quality Check or Observations-Based Quality Check or {see Diagram 3b} you COMPARE Predictions with Observations in a Reality Check.*  Then you can Use this Evaluation to stimulate-and-guide your Generation of another Option.   These short-term sequences of Design-Use-Use-Use are central actions in Design Process.    {*3 COMPARISONS of 3 Elements let you check for Quality & Reality}

Old and New:  You can "Generate... Options for an Experimental System" by finding old Experiments (in personal or collective memory) and by inventing new Experiments.  To creatively invent new Experimental Systems (E-Systems), you use the valuable creative-and-critical skill of imagining many possible E-Systems in quick-and-easy Mental Experiments (to imagine each E-System) while asking “if we do a Physical Experiment with this E-System, what kinds of things might happen, and what could we learn that might be interesting or useful?”

Wisely Using Time-and-Money:  Usually your Mental Experiments (to imagine multiple E-Systems) are quicker-and-cheaper, compared with running a Physical Experiment (with the E-System you have chosen).  But to reduce your expenses (of time and/or money) you can design a relatively quick-and-cheap kind of Physical Experiment that is called prototyping, e.g. by constructing & testing a quicker-and-cheaper version of a Product that you think might be a satisfactory Problem-Solution.    (the what+how and why of proto-typing)

MORE - strategies for Experimental Design - is it a third type of design?


Design Process and Other Models:  When comparing models-for-process the action of Designing-and-Actualizing (in Design Process) is called Prototyping (in some other models).*  And imagining, so you can make predictions, is one aspect of the Ideation (a term in some other models) that (in Design Process) is mentally Generating-and-Evaluating ideas-for-Options or ideas-for-Models.


Guided Generation for All Options:  In 4a and 4b, the arrow-lines for a Design Cycle (blue lines) and Science Cycle (yellow-green line) each have two arrows pointing toward the center, showing (as in Stage 3) that feedback from Evaluation can guide your Generation of Options for a Solution (in General Design, responding to a Quality Check) and Model (in Science-Design, when a Reality Check leads to asking "revise Model?"),* and also (in both kinds of design) an Experimental System.  The dotted lines near the top of Diagram 4b show that evaluative feedback also provides useful guidance when you "Make Decisions about Design-Actions and Design Project" in your Coordinating of Design-Actions.   /   *Design Cycles are used mainly (but not only) in General Design, and Science Cycles are used mainly (but not only) in Science-Design.  Each "not only" is necessary because usually both cycles are used in each type of design project, for General Design or Science-Design, with Crossover Thinking-and-Actions.


These are the major “new ideas” in Stage 4.  But they're not new modes of action (mental & physical) because all modes can be done in all stages.  Instead these ideas are just newly described in Stage 4, in a new model for Design Process within a family of related models.


Levels of Detail in Verbal/Visual Models

Stage 4 features Diagram 4a`, which is complex (compared with Diagrams 1, 2a, or 3b) but is easy to understand if you study it one part at a time.  Below it, Diagram 4b is similar but with more details. 4b includes extra concepts — "Communicate & Collaborate", "before and after", "Decisions about Design-Actions and Design Project", "consider all Quality Checks [Prediction-Based & Observation-Based]", "analyze (COMPARE, and revise?)"*, plus "Problem-Solution" & "Theory-Based Explanatory Model" instead of just "Solution" & "Model" — and a description of Experimental System that is more thorough than in 4a.   {* This "analyze..." includes a variety of ways (including Guided Generation) that ideas can be Evaluated-and-Generated in a Design Cycle or Science Cycle. }   /   For another kind of level, a set of simplified isolation-diagrams (like this one) makes it easier to focus on the parts of Diagram 4a that are being used for a particular kind of thinking-action, as in whole-part-whole instruction.

Which diagram is better?  I prefer 4a because it's less cluttered and more visually elegant.  But using both is better, because each offers different educational benefits.  I recommend beginning Stage 4 with Diagram 4a;  then use 4b for awhile to help students develop a deeper-and-wider understanding of concepts, before shifting back to 4a.  Or, after Stages 1-2a-3-4, you can shift back to Diagram 3b, which is my favorite (when all things are considered) because I like its balancing of logical thoroughness with elegant simplicity-and-symmetry.


The overviews of Design Process (above) and Science Process (later) are closely related, due to the close relationships between...


   General Design and Science-Design    (into right frame`)


Science is Design:  The overall objective of science is to understand more thoroughly-and-accurately, to improve knowledge by designing Experiments (to generate useful Information-about-Reality with Predictions about “what will happen”, or Observations of “what did happen”) and designing explanatory Models (to explain “the how-and-why of what happens”).  Therefore, science is a special type of design that can be called either science-design or, more commonly, science.


Two Related Kinds of Design are

General Design and Science-Design:

Let's look at similarities & differences, in PROCESS and OBJECTIVES, between two kinds of problem-solving design.


PROCESS (Part 1):  For a quick verbal/visual summary of close connections, you can see how 3 key elements (Predictions, Observations, Goals) are used in 3 Comparisons – in 2 Quality Checks for General Design, and 1 Reality Check for Science-Design:

3 Elements used in 3 Comparisons


OBJECTIVES:  The scope of Design includes General Design and Science-Design,

splitting Design into General Design & Science-Design 

In both types of design the objective is to "make things better" by solving a problem.  Although both are problem solving,* it's convenient to use different terms that help us distinguish between the main objectives:

in Science-Design you want to answer a question (a problem-question about “what happens, how, and why?”) by designing an explanatory model, to “make your knowledge better” and help satisfy an intrinsically-human desire for understanding.   {what is a theory-based explanatory Model?}

in General Design you want to solve a problem by designing a solution that is a better product, activity, strategy, or relationship to "make things better" by helping satisfy other human desires, or basic needs.   {General Design is used for “engineering” and much more.}

* In all design, the objective is to "make things better" with improved understanding (in Science-Design) or (in General Design) by improving other aspects of life.  Together, these objectives include "almost everything we do in life."


PROCESS (Part 2):  In both types of design, the process of design is similar in most ways because each uses the same basic Design Cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate by creatively Generating Ideas, and critically Evaluating Ideas using Quality Checks with Quality defined by Goals. {similarities & differences in process are summarized in Diagram 4a` and explained in Stage 4}   But a special kind of Quality Check (that uses Reality Checks) is the logical foundation of Science-Design, and other Goal-criteria also are considered when evaluating the Quality of a theory-based Model.  All of these "Checks" arise naturally from the process itself, without forcing, because 3 key elements (GOALS, PREDICTIONS, OBSERVATIONS) are used in 3 Comparisons;  two comparisons are Quality Checks, and the other is a Reality Check.  The main focus of process-action for General Design is Quality Checks, and for Science-Design it's Reality Checks, but each type of design also has...

Crossover Thinking-and-Actions:   Whether the main OBJECTIVE of a design project (and thus the main focus of problem-solving actions) makes it General Design or Science-Design, sub-objectives may involve the other type of design.  Or a main objective can include aspects of both General Design and Science.   During a PROCESS of design, while trying to achieve their objective(s) the improvised thoughts-and-actions of expert designers (as individuals and in groups) are not restricted by the “category” of their main objective.  Instead they do whatever will help them make progress in designing a problem-solution.  Therefore, in a project for General Design they sometimes do Science in Science Cycles to improve their understanding of “what happens, how, and why” in the context of their Design Project.  And during a project for Science-Design they sometimes do General Design in Design Cycles for sub-projects or spinoff projects, or to solve process-problems that occur during a project.   /   Due to these crossover thinking-and-actions, Design is not split into categories of either General Design OR Science-Design, as implied by the diagram above.  Instead it's General Design AND/OR Science-Design, because Design includes General Design and Science-Design and Both:

splitting Design into General Design & Science-Design 
implications for instruction:  Due to these overlaps in real-life design, inquiry activities should include Design-Inquiry and Science-Inquiry and both together.    {examples of Experiments that are useful for General Design & Science-Design}


Comparisons, Bridges, Natures

Comparisons:  We can use Design Process as a logical framework for comparing General Design and Science-Design,* to help students understand their similarities (these are opportunities for transfer) and differences, their interactions & overlaps.  (*and comparing sub-fields within each)   /   For example, the similarities, differences, and interactive overlaps between the “close cousins” of Science and Engineering (the type of General Design most closely related to Science-Design) are examined briefly and in more detail.

Bridges:  We can teach principles of Design Process to build educational bridges between General Design (in Engineering & other areas) and Science, to help students achieve important goals for Science & Engineering Practices in the new Science Education Standards which include understanding...

Natures:  The logical organization of Design Process will help students understand the Nature of Engineering & Nature of Science, and their interactions (the Nature of Science-and-Engineering) and implications for Science, Technology, and Society.

{more about Cousins & Comparisons, Bridges, Natures}




   Science Process – an Overview    (into right frame`)

Objectives of Science:  The long-term main objective of science is to improve our understanding of nature by designing explanatory theory-based Models about some aspect of the world, to explain “what happens” and maybe also “how & why.”  While pursuing this main objective, a useful sub-objective is designing Experiments so we can learn more about “what happens.”     { Science has two objectives — "designing..." and "designing..." — so we can call it Science-Design. }


My model for science is called Science Process (instead of Scientific Method) for two reasons:

    • Science Process is a special type of Design Process because Science is a special type of Design.
    • I want to reduce creativity-restricting assumptions — due to rigid stereotypes about a rigid Scientific Method — that can hinder our productive educational uses of ALL models for a process of science.     { When we ask “Is there a Scientific Method?”, why is the best answer NO and YES? }

The Nature of Science includes the basic Logic of Science Process (by using Reality Checks) plus other aspects of science in a variety of factors (empirical, conceptual, cultural-personal, 123) and activities (45 6 7 89) when we are trying to Design Models for “how the world works.”


The main activities of Design Process are Design Cycles and a Science Cycle, as described in Stage 3 of a five-stage progression of models for Design Process.  In the simplified diagram below, the extra activities of generalized Design Process are eliminated, to focus attention on the logic of Science Processin which you "Use" PREDICTIONS and OBSERVATIONS in a Reality Check (RC) that you "use" to ask "revise Model?" — when you do a Science Cycle.

only basic Science Process

This basic Logic of Science occurs in a system of interconnected goal-directed actions:  you Design Experiments so you can Do Mental Experiments (to make PREDICTIONS by using Model + Logic) and Do Physical Experiments (to make OBSERVATIONS by using Observation-detectors) so you can compare PREDICTIONS with OBSERVATIONS in a Reality Check so you can decide whether to Revise [the] Model? that was used to make Predictions.   During this Science Cycle, when you "use RC" you are using critical Evaluation (from a Reality Check) to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation (if you "revise Model") with guided Generation.


What you'll see below supplements this logic by describing what is "special" about Science Process (compared with generalized Design Process) when you design Experiments and design Models.


Designing Experiments

Why?  When you Design and Do and Use Experiments (Mental & Physical), these related activities are a central focus in Design Process for both Science-Design & General Design.   {Experiments in Science & Design}

Occasionally, designing an Experiment is the main objective.  Usually it's a sub-objective that is useful for achieving a main objective.  The long-term main objective in Science is designing explanatory theory-based Models about “how-and-why things happen.”  But to pursue this objective you need information — Observations (aka Data) and/or Predictions — about “what happens” in the part of nature you are studying.  This information comes from the sub-objective of designing Experiments that will be scientifically useful.  But even when it's a sub-objective, designing Experiments (and doing them) is very important in the everyday lives of most scientists;  and it's often the focus when writing grants to fund a scientific research lab.


How?  Useful principles & strategies for Experimental Design are in Stage 4 and Mode 2C.


Designing Models

The basic process of design (using Cycles to Generate-and-Evaluate) is similar for all objectives.  To design an explanatory Model (that often is theory-based)* you Generate Options for a Model, and Choose a Model-Option to Evaluate by using Quality Checks, by COMPARING the Model-Option's properties (predicted or observed) with the desired properties that are your Goals.  We'll look at two kinds of Goals, for plausibility and utility.

* Explanations, Models, and Theories "are similar because all are human efforts to describe-and-explain."  In this website I often use model and theory interchangeably, for better communication (because "theory" is more commonly understood by readers) and because models usually are theory-based.


Goals for Plausibility-and-Utility

Plausible and Useful:  We want an explanatory Model (or Theory) to be correct — to be true because it corresponds to reality — but being highly plausible (seeming likely to be correct) is all we can claim with a logically justifiable confidence.  We also want a Model to be useful, to have utility.   /   Here, "we" are scientists (especially) and also other designers, which includes all of us because everyone uses theory-based explanatory models in all of life, not just in science.

Evaluation and Generation using Reality Checks:  We estimate a Model's plausibility by evaluating its Predictive Accuracy with Mental-and-Physical Reality Checks (aka Model Checks or Prediction Checks) by COMPARING Model-based Predictions with Reality-based Observations.  A Reality Check shows you how closely “the way things are in your thinking” (when using this Model to make Predictions)* matches “the way things are in reality.”  In addition to this critical Evaluation, we also use Reality Checks for creative Generation with retroduction (it's an imaginatively creative use of deduction) that achieves a closer match between Model-based Predictions and known Observations, with Guided Generation in a Science Cycle. {timings: logic and caution}  {Reality Checks are Hypothetico-Deductive Logic}   /   Often, but not always, you make a Prediction by using a Theory-based Model (of a System) that is constructed by applying a general Theory to a specific Experimental System.

Other Goal-Criteria:  When we evaluate a Model, usually the most important Goal-criterion is the Model's plausibility, which is estimated mainly (but not only) by using Reality Checks to test its Predictive Accuracy.  But in a broader evaluation of plausibility-and-utility, we also consider other Goal-criteria for defining the Quality of a Model:  its empirical Predictive Contrast (compared with other models);  its internal characteristics, and external relationships with accepted models;  its cognitive utility (to stimulate creative-and-critical productive thinking) and its related utilities for education, scientific research, and achieving personal goals.  We use these Goal-criteria in multiple Quality Checks* to estimate a Quality Status for each competitive model, and then decide which Model(s) provide the best explanations (for "what, how, and why") for a particular Experimental System, in a process of evaluating-and-deciding.   {more about "other goal-criteria"}   /   These "other goal-criteria" are featured in the original model of Scientific Method I developed as part of my PhD project.  This model is summarized in diagrams showing 9 aspects of science, including Theory Evaluation based on 3 kinds of goal-criteria:  Empirical (re: Agreement & Predictive Contrast), Conceptual, and Cultural-Personal.

* Quality Checks are used in all design, in General Design (as the main way to evaluate) and (usually as supplementary ways to evaluate) in Science-Design where usually the main Goal-criterion is Predictive Accuracy, which is tested in Reality Checks.  Science-Design uses Science Cycles (asking “should I revise?” in an effort to improve Predictive Accuracy) and also Design Cycles (asking “should I revise?” in an effort to improve the overall Quality of a Model when all criteria (Predictive Accuracy plus "Other Goal-Criteria") are considered.



 I.O.U. – Maybe I'll write SHORT Summaries for these sections in mid-2023. 
 Until then you can click a link to read the LONGER Summary of that section. 
 And in other pages,...
 Learning More from Experience
 Combining Models-for-Process
  Instruction for Design Process 
  Benefits of Eclectic Instruction 
  ( it's summarized in this page )  
 You can put this table into right iframe because its links open on left side


The wide scope of problem-solving design` (it "includes almost everything we do") and the simplicity of Design Process (so we can SHOW students how they use a process of design for "almost everything") let us build strong Educational Bridges (from life to school, and back into life) — using a variety of Inquiry Activities in a wide range of subjects (in sciences & engineering, arts & humanities) as part of a coordinated wide-spiral curriculum for STEM-STEAM Education and more — that will help students improve their Motivations for Learning and Transfers of Learning.


A quick ELEVATOR TALK summarizes the main ideas (those below, and more) about...


   Building Educational Transfer-Bridges    (into right frame`)

With two kinds of educational bridges — each promoting two-way transfers of learning — we can connect Life with School, and Engineering with Science.


1 - Building Transfer-Bridges between Life and School

The life/school bridges we build are highly motivating.  Bridging is possible because:

    students HAVE similar design-thinking experiences in many different contexts, when they use a problem-solving process of design thinking for almost everything they do in their everyday-life and in their school-life.
2-Step Cycle of Design (simple diagram)
    we can SHOW students the similar design-thinking they do "in many different contexts."  How?  We begin with SIMPLICITY by showing students how, in everyday life, they often Define a Problem, and try to Solve the Problem by creatively Generating Ideas (for a Problem-Solution) and critically Evaluating Ideas.  We encourage them to reflect on “what they do and how” in life-activities, so they will convince themselves that they use a similar process of thinking "for almost everything they do" in life-activities and (after a little more reflection) also in school-activities.  Their basic process of problem-solving design — by Defining a Problem, and Solving the Problem (using creative-and-critical Cycles of Design to Generate-and-Evaluate Ideas for Options) — is shown in Diagram 1 and is explained in Stage 1` of a 5-stage progression for helping students discover principles of productive design-thinking.  When we let students explore more deeply, they will discover how-and-why they have been using Quality Checks (and Reality Checks) and other useful thinking-actions.  Their improved understanding of design-thinking principles probably will help them improve their design-thinking skills, in school and in life.

Building on the Past, with Transfers from Life into School, for Confidence:   In life, students already HAVE used design-thinking process (i.e. problem-solving process) for almost everything they do so we can build on the foundation of what they already know (as in constructivist theories of learning) with transfers-of-learning from life into school.  We can help students realize that they are using familiar skills when they do Design Activities (in Design-Inquiry & Science-Inquiry and with Strategies for Thinking), so they are justified in confidently thinking “I have done this before (during design-in-life) so I can do it again (for design-in-school)” to help them construct an accurate-and-optimistic perception of self.  Design Activities in school give a wider range of students* a wider variety of experiences with design thinking, to supplement their everyday experiences, to help them improve their design-thinking skills.   {familiarity and discovery: Notice that we don't teach new skills, we help students discover how to improve the "familiar skills" they "already have used," building on "what they already know."}

Learning for the Future, with Transfers from School into Life, for Motivation:   We can show students how design skills WILL be useful in “real life” outside the classroom, now and in their future, so they will have transfers-of-learning from school back into life.  When students want to learn for life, they will want to learn in school, IF (but only if) they believe that ideas-and-skills from school will transfer into life and will help them achieve their personal goals for life.

{more about past-present-future bridges, from life and into life}


Equity in Education

* When we provide opportunities for "a wider range of students" to have experiences with design thinking, and learn principles of design thinking, this combination of experience plus principles can help more students (across a wider range) improve their skills in design thinking, and their confidence & motivation, so we are promoting equity in education.   {a 5-phase process for improving diversity & equity in STEM}


2 - Building Transfer-Bridges between Engineering and Science

Design Process is used for General Design (which includes engineering) and Science-Design,* so we can build transfer-bridges between these two related kinds of design.   {also, Comparing Cousins - Engineering and Science}


Two-Way Transfers:  Starting with instruction in General Design, which I recommend, produces related benefits for transfers of motivation, learning, and confidence when we build bridges to Science.*  But useful transfers also occur if we begin with activities in Science, especially when we build life-to-science-to-life bridges by showing students how they use science in everyday life.


* Building Bridges with Science Questions and 3 Comparisons

Questions:  During an activity in General Design,* a teacher can help students understand the logical foundation of Science-Design by finding appropriate times — which occur whenever students are surprised by an Observation — for a Science Question, when students COMPARE their theory-based Predictions and reality-based Observations, and ask “were you surprised?” and then “why?” or “why not?”, to help them discover that their surprise (or non-surprise) is caused by their answer when they ask themself is there a good match between the two things being compared, between Predictions and Observations?” in a Reality Check.  A teacher's guiding of students (to ask science questions, and in other ways) calls attention to opportunities for learning.  And, more useful in the long run, teachers can show students how to develop their own metacognitive skills in self-guiding.   {many possible responses to a surprising Reality Check}

* The main objective in General Design (in Engineering & much more, in almost everything we do) is to design a better Problem-Solution, and the main process-tool is Quality Checks that use a Design Question (which could be an Engineering Question) when, for a specific Solution-Option that is being evaluated, a student COMPARES the Option's Properties (either Predicted or Observed, in theory-based Predictions or reality-based Observations) with their Goals (for a satisfactory Problem-Solution), and asks is there a good match between the two things being compared, between the Option's Properties and the Goal-Properties I want?”

Comparisons:  We also can build bridges in other ways, by helping students discover relationships between General Design and Science-Design, such as the 3 Elements used in 3 Comparisons (2 Quality Checks, 1 Reality Check) that are used in 3 Cycles (2 for Design, 1 for Science).


Alternating and Mixing:  We can ALTERNATE design-inquiry and science-inquiry and other activities in any order, beginning with General Design (engineering,...) or Science.  And there is MIXING due to overlaps in function when “science thinking” is used in General Design, and “general design thinking” is used in Science.  {using reflections & comparisons about design-and-science}   During this ALTERNATING-and-MIXING there will be transfers of learning in both directions (from General Design to Science, and from Science to General Design) that will help students achieve important goals for the Engineering and Science Practices in NGSS.


Diversity in STEM:  To improve equity in education by increasing the diversity of students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) we can build educational bridges from Life to School, and then to Engineering and Science, in a 5-stage process:

    First, students do non-STEM design-inquiry activities that are similar to activities they do in everyday life, thus building life-to-school bridges.
    Then the simplicity of Design Process lets us easily SHOW students how the thinking skills-and-process they are using is similar to the skills-and-process used by engineers.
    Third, students “do engineering” with design-inquiry activities that gradually become more challenging, and in a process of reflection and discovery they improve their abilities to understand and perform the NGSS Engineering Practices.
    Fourth, during design-inquiry we build bridges — by asking science questions and showing relationships between engineering & science — to promote transfers-of-skill from engineering to science, to improve students' understanding and performing of NGSS Science Practices.
    Finally, students “do science” with science-inquiry activities, so they can continue improving their Science (and Engineering) Practices.

Or we can begin with science-inquiry activities "that are similar to activities they do in everyday life," and then build bridges from Science Practices to Engineering Practices.


MORE about Building Engineering-and-Science Bridges for Transfer



   Inquiry using Design Activities    (put into right frame`)

Designing for Learning:  In a goal-directed designing of instruction we define goals for ideas & skills, and then "design instruction with learning activities (and associated teaching activities) that will provide opportunities for experience with these ideas & skills, and help students learn more from their experiences."

Choices by Teachers and Students:  The wide scope of problem-solving Design Thinking makes it easy to find life-relevant design activities that are fun now and will be useful later so students will be more motivated to think, do, and learn.  The choice of a design objective can be made by teachers who carefully develop goal-directed Aesop's Activities,* and by students (usually with some guidance) because they will be “doing design” for any objective they choose, although with some choices they can learn more than with others.    {One source of educational goals for ideas-and-skills is the system of coordinated guidelines, for both ideas and skills, in the new Common Core & Science Standards. }

A Variety of Options:  Students use a process of design for almost everything they do in life and in school, so teachers of any subject, for students of any age, have a wide range of options for Design Activities (i.e., Design Experiences) that are Doing-Thinking-Learning Activities for improving their ideas-and-skills.  During a do-think-learn activity, students can listen and talk, read and write, question and answer, explore and observe, investigate, analyze, and solve.    {how can teachers find old (or new) activities?}


Four types of DESIGN ACTIVITIES (•• • •) are Inquiring & Inquiring with Arguing, and Strategizing:


•• Two Kinds of Inquiry Activity

Students can do science-inquiry and design-inquiry.  What is inquiry?  Opportunities for inquiry occur whenever a gap in knowledge — in conceptual knowledge (so students don't understand) or procedural knowledge (so they don't know what to do, or how) — stimulates action (mental and/or physical) and students are allowed to think-do-learn.

In two kinds of design people try to "make things better" by solving a problem.  We want to...

    improve our understanding in Science-Design (i.e., in Science), by asking questions and seeking answers.
    improve some other aspect(s) of life in General Design, by defining problems and seeking solutions.

With two kinds of Design Activities,...

    in Science-Inquiry students ask-and-answer questions with Science, to design a useful experiment or a better theory.
    in Design-Inquiry they define-and-solve problems with General Design, which includes Engineering, to design a better product, activity, strategy, or relationship.

Due to overlaps — when with crossover actions an engineer sometimes does science, and a scientist sometimes does engineering — students often will combine both types of inquiry in a Learning Experience, which thus becomes Design-and-Science Inquiry.  By using these overlaps we can build transfer-bridges from design-inquiry to science-inquiry, and vice versa.   {building 3 kinds of Educational Bridges}


• Argumentation Activities:  {{ I.O.U. – Soon (maybe by mid-2023) this section will be revised. }}  Inquiry activities (for both General Design and Science-Design) can include argumentation activities — to let students generate-and-evaluate arguments by using evaluation (based on evidence & logic), strategies, and communication — to improve argumentation skills.  These argument activities can span a wide range of topics,* and may be more educationally effective when teachers use an instructional framework of CER (Claim + Evidence + Reasoning) supplemented by principles of Design Process.


• Activities to develop-and-apply Strategies for Thinking

In a special kind of Design-Inquiry, students develop-and-apply cognitive/metacognitive thinking strategies (of many kinds) by learning from experience using a process of design.  The goal of a Strategy for Thinking is to improve the quality of performing and/or learning for their own ideas-and-skills with proactive personal education.

In a special kind of thinking strategy, students use a process-of-inquiry to discover principles-of-inquiry during their experiences-with-inquiry.  Why should we expect experience plus principles to be useful?


Strategies for Generating Activities

Old and New:  The last part of the full page describes strategies to generate options (by finding old or inventing new) for Design Activities.  Nothing new is required because current inquiry activities are design activities, and other approaches (PBL, PBL, Case Studies, POE, CER,...) are compatible with using Design Process and other models to teach principles of design thinking.

We can find-or-invent a wide variety of activities:  goal-directed Aesop's Activities that are designed to help students learn specific ideas or skills, with goals defined by external standards, or by yourself when you define an idea (or skill) as a worthy goal because you can imagine a life-situation where it would be useful;   goals can lead to ideas for activities, and vice versa, with reversible inspirations;   activities that include arguments can be designed for all areas of life – in problem-solving Design, and in question-answering Science by using the Scientific Reasoning that is similar to general Critical Thinking with lively debates and analysis of Logical Fallacies;   in a whole-part-whole progression, students do activities for part(s) of a process;   teachers can blend mini-activities (with clickers, guiding,...) into major activities;  you can choose the topic for a design project, or let students generate options, evaluate, and decide;   options include activities already being used, plus those you invent, or you find (in journals, websites/blogs, or internet forums, at conferences, or from teachers at your school) and borrow;   optimizing the benefits of an eclectic mix.

The final page-section explains why-and-how "the community of educators should help teachers by designing high-quality Inquiry Activities that are educationally effective (in providing benefits, both cognitive and affective), are do-able in a reasonable time, interesting for students, and have appropriate difficulty ... Why? ... How? ... It will be easier for teachers to use activities that are ready-to-use as-is;  but teachers like to have customizing options that let them adapt an activity for their situation by ‘playing with it’ to personalize it."



   Motivations for Learning    (into right frame`)

I encourage you to read the first part of the full page about motivation.  Here is a brief outline of its ideas:

    students who believe that Learning in School is Learning for Life (so they can achieve their goals for life) with Personal Education (by adopting a proactive problem-solving approach to Learning for Life, trying to “make life better” by improving their personal knowledge of ideas-and-skills);
    students want Enjoyable Activities (that are "intrinsically interesting, challenging in a good way, and fun") plus long-term satisfactions;
    Educational Teamwork with Matching Goals occurs when teachers' goals match students' goals;  a teacher can achieve better matching by adjusting to students, and persuading students;
    in effective Motivational Persuasion we consider all aspects of total motivation – intrinsic, personal, interpersonal, and extrinsic, all hopefully based on good values & priorities – that contribute to how a student thinks about their strategies-and-actions aimed at “getting what they want” in their whole life as a whole person;  then we use words and actions to persuade students that we have good intentions (we care for them and are trying to help them improve their lives) and we are competent (in defining worthy educational goals, and helping students achieve these goals), and with words-and-actions we share our enthusiasm for the joys of thinking & learning.


Educational Teamwork with Mutually Supportive Goals

I.O.U. – Maybe the rest of this section will be developed during April-May 2023.  Some ideas that will be here are...


TOTAL GOALS FOR STUDENTS, in school + outside -- general, individuals -- self-actualization, achieving highest potential, pursuing toward achieving, fulfilling,

TOTAL GOALS FOR TEACHERS -- variety -- by teacher [for self [personal, classroom], academics, behavior,



complex system of interactive goals, with varying degrees/amounts of mutual support

mutually supportive actions (vs interactions?) occur when

mutually supportive goals in a classroom between teachers & students, and between different teachers, and between different students

communities (of teacher & students in a classroom, and of classrooms in a school, and of schools in a district) at multiple levels, from classroom to school district and beyond, multi-level communities ---- broader level communities, between teachers & students in different classrooms -- teacher-teacher, student-student, and even teacher-student

productive thinking-and-actions (including words) that are productive in helping to achieve these goals

goals for a community (e.g. greatest good for the greatest number) and for individuals [teachers & students]



Moving Beyond Simple Motivation


Perceptions of Self — helping students develop
Accuracy plus Optimism, with a Growth Mindset 

The second part of the full Motivations-Page` begins by asking “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 (as with personal education for life) will be rewarded.   {This claim is supported by recent research.}   One way to encourage an "incremental growth" view of intelligence is with a brain-as-muscle analogy, by explaining how our muscles and brains both improve when they are used, to help students develop a growth mindset. (videos for students - by Carol Dweck plus an iou for 2023 when I want to provide more links for web-pages & videos about Growth Mindset}

The self-perceptions of a student will affect their performing and/or learning for knowledge that is conceptual and/or procedural (for ideas and skills and skills-with-ideas), is mental or mental/physical.    {more about self-perception}


Diversity and Equity

Promoting Diversity:  Due to the diversity of students (in abilities, experiences, and motivations) some students will succeed in design/inquiry activities, beyond their success in traditional school activities.  The intellectual-and-emotional rewards of this success — for a wider range of students — will improve their self-image and their motivations for learning, if they begin to see their schoolwork as part of a personal education that is motivated and guided by their pursuit of personal goals for life.

Equity in Education:  Providing a wider range of opportunities for success-and-satisfaction can be especially helpful for students (such as girls, minorities, and poor) who traditionally are under-represented in STEM fields like Science and Engineering.  This expansion of opportunities, to improve equity in education, is one reason (among many) to use eclectic instruction that includes Design Activities for Inquiry (with Argumentation) and Thinking Strategies.

Building Transfer-Bridges:  We can help a wider range of students take advantage of their opportunities, in school and in life, by Building Educational Transfer-Bridges (from life into school & back into life, and between subject-areas) that will improve their confidence about learning and motivations to learn and transfers of learning.  To improve diversity & equity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) we can use a 5-step progression of building bridges.


Two different reasons to avoid investing effort in Personal Education — when a lower-performing student thinks “why bother? it won't help me,” and a higher-performing student thinks “why bother? I'm doing fine so I don't need it” — require different approaches by teachers.  (and by others who care: counselors, coaches, parents, classmates,...)

How can we motivate students who think "why bother?"  In the full page, Motivational Persuasion (Part 2) begins by stating the obvious, that "dedicated teachers [and others who care]... try to help more students decide to invest more of the intelligent effort (by working smart and working hard) that will help them improve their learning, performing, and enjoying."  Then it looks at strategies — customized for each "reason to avoid investing effort" and for individual students within each group — for using eclectic instruction, and for pep talks to “be all you can be.”  (also, Thinking Strategies can produce a cycle of mutual support)   And it ends by considering Two Kinds of Personal Benefits for a student, by Using Education to Help Yourself and Help Others.

{ full page for Motivations to Learn }



   Transfers of Learning    (into right frame`)


Part 1 — Two Principles for Increasing Transfer

Transfer is important.  How People Learn` says "the ultimate goal of learning" is transfer, so it's "a major goal of schooling," and they recommend (based on research about learning) that to increase transfer, we should:  A) teach knowledge in multiple contexts;   B) teach knowledge in a form that can be easily generalized.   Will using Design Process help us do these two things?  Yes.  We logically predict that transfer will improve when we do A-and-B, and both happen when we use Design Process:

A) teach knowledge in multiple contexts, and...  People use a problem-solving process of design thinking for almost everything in life so students can do a wide range of design activities in a wide-spiral curriculum that builds educational bridges (to promote transfers-of-learning & transitions-of-attitudes) from life into school — in all subjects (in arts, humanities, sciences, engineering, business) — and back into life.   /   Transfers-of-learning increase when teachers give students opportunities for design-experiences across a wide range, in the second of 4 stages in learning-from-inquiry.  But transfers should increase even more when we also use the next 2 stages by supplementing design-experiences with reflections-on-experience and design-principles, when we also...

B) teach knowledge in a form that can be easily generalized, and...  This occurs with Design Process, for two related reasons.*  When its general principles are taught in multiple contexts we can show students how all of their problem-solving strategies (used in different contexts) are related to Design Process (because it's used in each context) and thus are related to each other.     {analogy with transitive math: if A=B and B=C, then A=C}

* First, the focus of Design Process is the general short-term sequences — as in 4 Ways to Use Experiences — that we use in all design thinking (in a wide range of design fields) for all problem solving,  so the generalized principles of Design Process can be taught in multiple contexts.  We can show students how they use a similar process of design-thinking in many different contexts, in life and school, to build educational bridges that increase confidence and motivation for more students (with wider diversity) to improve educational equity.

* Second, the generalizable principles of Design Process can be taught using a family of closely related models (with possibilities for combining Design Process with other models-for-process) in a step-by-step progression for learning.  One kind of progression uses the Simplicity and Symmetry of Design Process:

    • A teacher begins with simplicity — showing students how they Define a Problem, and Solve the Problem by using cycles of Generation-and-Evaluation in which creative Generation is guided by critical Evaluation — that is easily generalized to solving problems in all areas of life.

    • Then the progression continues — maybe with students reflecting on their own experiences while solving problems, so they can use a process of inquiry to learn principles for inquiry — to help students develop a deeper understanding of the process they use for solving problems.  A central feature in the framework of Design Process is the mental-physical symmetry of mental experiences & physical experiences that occur in functionally integrated short-term sequences (so we can get information and use information) while we're solving problems.     /     One possibility for instruction is whole-part-whole teaching that (with a "part") lets a student temporarily focus on a particular skill — like one of the 10 modes of thinking-and-action in 4 categories [when they Define, Generate, Evaluate, Coordinate] — and then (with "whole") helps them learn to master the coherent integration of individual thinking skills (in these 10 modes) to form productive whole-process skills.     /     For students, two benefits of the logical organization in Design Process are:  increased problem-solving skills in each of the multiple contexts;  and, with improved understanding of process, increased transfers of skills (including conditional knowledge) from one context to another.


more - analogy with transitive math (if A=D and B=D and C=D, then A=B=C) but why A≈B≈C (with ≈ instead of =) for transfers-between-areas(A,B,C) plus reasons for humility when evaluating all claims for transfer


table of contents:  In the rest of this section about Transfers of Learning, you'll find...

  Metacognitive Strategies for increasing transfers between contexts (in different areas of life) and between times (from past to present, and from present to future),

  improving transfers of ideas-and-skills by developing Conditional Knowledge (for functional understandings) and organizing Procedural Knowledge (for conceptual understandings),

  Teaching for Transfer – producing Education to Prepare for Life.


Part 2 — Metacognitive Strategies for Increasing Transfer  (into right frame`)

Teaching for Transfer:  Teachers should develop improved Teaching Strategies to promote transfer.   {And, of course, to also achieve other objectives, or multiple objectives;  for example, Transitions of Attitudes and Transfers of Learning (in time & between areas) are related, and together they form the foundation for a strategy of building bridges to achieve educational equity.}

Learning for Transfer:  Teachers should motivate students to develop-and-use their own Thinking Strategies and help them do this more effectively.

These cognitive-and-metacognitive Strategies for Transfer overlap, so Part 2 includes both perspectives, teaching & learning, for teachers and students.  Transfer Strategies are important because all learning involves transfer when we build new knowledge on the foundation of existing knowledge, as described in Constructivist Theories of Learning.


Remembering-and-Transfering are closely related, so strategies that improve a remembering of knowledge — by storing/retaining (in the past) and recalling (in the present) — also improve a transfering of knowledge.     {but... some Strategies-for-Remembering are especially effective for Strategies-for-Transfering}

The paragraphs below examine two factors — change in time, and change of context — that are involved in a “transfer” of ideas-and-skills.

What is transfer?  In our usual definition of transfer, remembering is necessary for transfer, but is not sufficient.  For transfering to occur, remembering is necessary (so all transfering requires remembering), but remembering isn't sufficient because “transfer” also requires a change of context – i.e., transfering is remembering that occurs in a different context.

Transfer to Different Contexts:  What we consider to be “just remembering” occurs when the context-of-storing (in the past) and context-of-recalling (in the present) are extremely similar.  As the similarity-in-context decreases (so the difference-in-context increases), the amount of transfering increases.  Therefore, it's useful to think about “transfer” ranging along a continuum from “remembering with a small amount of transfer” to “remembering with a large amount of transfer”.

Transfer to Different Times:  A transfer of learning requires that you “remember” something (idea[s] and/or skill[s]) from your past so it can be used in your present.  Or you can remember it in your future because you learned it in your present.*  These two kinds of transfer — past-to-present (to improve your performing now) and present-to-future (because you are learning now, to improve your performing later) — require different Thinking Strategies in the present, as described in Performing and/or Learning.     {thinking about time-perspectives:  Of course, all remembering occurs in your present, so all transfers are from past to present, when something (idea and/or skill) you learned in your past helps you perform better now, in your present.  A transfer from present to future will occur whenever something you are learning now will help you perform better later, in your future – i.e., in a "present" time (the only time when transfer-by-remembering can occur) sometime in your future.}


Past - Present - Future

You can develop a wide variety of Thinking Strategies for increasing transfers to different times so you can improve your performance now (by reaching backward into the past) and (by looking forward) in the future.     { One theory of transfer includes two dimensions, backward/forward and low/high. }

Learning from the Past:  In the present, you often can improve your current performance by intentionally recalling for transfer — by asking “what have I learned in the past that might be useful now?” — to help you recall ideas-and-skills knowledge you learned in the past, so you can use this knowledge.

Learning for the Future:  In the present, you often can improve your future performance by intentionally learning for transfer, in ways that will make your ideas-and-skills knowledge more easily available for personal use in the future, by asking “what can I learn now that will help me later?”

Both strategies are useful "often" but not always, because sometimes conscious metacognition is a distraction that should be avoided.  Therefore, it's important to regulate your metacognition.

Interactions between timings and priorities — is your main objective to improve your performance now, or later? — are examined in Performing and/or Learning.


Here are four related strategies for guiding — with the stimulus for metacognitive action located externally or internally — that can increase transfers of learning between past, present, and future.

External Reminding and Self-Reminding, for transfers from Past to Now:  When teachers use guiding, one function is reminding students to think about what they already know.  Students who want to be self-reliant, not dependent on external guiding, can do proactive self-reminding with a metacognitive Transfer Strategy of trying to intentionally recall ideas or skills that have been useful in similar situations in the past, and thus might be useful now.

Externally-Guided Awareness and Self-Guided Awareness, for transfers from Now to Future:  In a related kind of guiding, with a reflection request (reflection question) a teacher increases a student's awareness of what is happening, or did happen;  then the student's cognitive-and-metacognitive reflection puts knowledge into their memory-storage so this knowledge will be available for recalling in their future.  Of course, a student can self-promote their own awareness and reflection, with or without a conscious intention to learn, although...

During a learning of knowledge, storage-in-memory usually is improved by awareness, and even more by awareness with intention to store-in-memory, by intention to remember.  Later, retrieving this knowledge can occur by spontaneous recall (without conscious effort) or intentional recall (with self-reminding).



Improving Understandings to Improve Transfers

Design Process can help students improve their transfers of ideas-and-skills (to improve their performance and/or learning) by helping them develop Conditional Knowledge (to improve their functional understandings of their ideas-and-skills) and organize Procedural Knowledge (to improve their conceptual understandings of their problem-solving process).


• develop Conditional Knowledge

A very useful kind of metacognitive knowledge is the Conditional Knowledge that is knowing WHAT you can accomplish with each skill (WHY to use it) plus WHEN to use it (the Conditions of Application) during a process of design.  Each skill is a mode of thinking that is an option for “what to do next.”  A better understanding of your skills, with conditional knowledge, will help you find a “WHAT-and-WHAT match” between WHAT will help you make progress (you know this with metacognitive awareness of “where you are now” and “where you want to go” in your process) and (by using Conditional Knowledge) WHAT you can do to make progress, so you can decide “WHAT to do next” in coordinating your process of design.

When you decide to intentionally learn for the future by improving your Conditional Knowledge for a variety of skills (that are useful in a variety of situations), this knowledge will help you remember/transfer your problem-solving skills, which will improve your problem-solving performance.


The structure of Design Process can help students develop Conditional Knowledge and also...


• organize Procedural Knowledge

Educational Benefits of Organizing:  Research shows that logically organizing Conceptual Knowledge leads to better understanding, remembering-transfering, and applying.  A logical organization of Procedural Knowledge, as in Design Process, should be similarly helpful for improving Conditional Knowledge (and thus Action-Coordinating Strategies) and in other ways.    {some cognitive benefits of organization are illustrated by three quizzes, in which memory improves when 22 meaningless letters are organized into 6 meaningful words and then 1 interesting story}   {instruction with verbal-and-visual integration}

Organizing to improve Transfer & Expertise:  According to How People Learn, organization of knowledge improves transfer and expertise, including adaptive expertise that "is flexible and more adaptable to external demands," that uses metacognitive thinking strategies to cope with new situations, and pursues lifelong learning to continually improve ideas-and-skills.  Regarding education, the authors wonder "whether some ways of organizing knowledge [and some kinds of learning experiences] are better at helping people remain flexible and adaptive to new situations."  Maybe adaptive expertise can be promoted by teaching Design Process, which has a logically organized structure* and also (due to its options for “what to do next”) is flexible so it encourages structured improvisation.

* Organizing Knowledge with Design Process:  The logically organized framework of Design Process — as in Diagram 3b` that shows, with spatial patterns and colors, the “parallels” of mental-and-physical experimenting used in Cycles of Generation-and-Evaluation (in two Design Cycles, one Science Cycle) — will help students understand the functional integration of problem-solving skills within each design experience, and also between design experiences in different subject areas to increase transfer between areas.  Instruction that uses inquiry to teach inquiry probably will be very effective for learning and transfer.   {more - other descriptions of verbal/visual integration in Design Process have more colorizing and more details}

a bonus:  organizing most kinds of knowledge (not just Procedural Knowledge)* will help you improve your understandings and your transfers.     {



Education to Prepare for Life:

Improving 21st Century Skills


Schools cannot prepare students for every challenge they will face.  But we can help them cope with challenges by improving their problem-solving skills (including adaptive expertise) and their ability to learn new ideas-and-skills when necessary.    { Instead of just giving fish to students, we teach them how to fish, and why. }

Transfers of Design-Skills into Life:  Schools can use design thinking (which includes scientific reasoning and is used for almost everything we do in life) to build educational bridges — from life into school (in all subjects in a wide-spiral curriculum) and back into life — to increase motivations for learning and transfers of learning.

Transfers of Science-Skills into Life:  In all of life, not just in science, students use their theories about “how the world works” to understand “what is happening, how, why” and to imagine “what will happen.”  When their theories about the world are more thorough & accurate, this improved understanding will increase the accuracy of their theory-based predictions that, along with their values & priorities, will help them make wise decisions, personally and professionally, while pursuing their goals in life.

Transfers of Evaluative Thinking into Life:  All of us, including students, use a process of design thinking (by Generating-and-Evaluating Ideas) to "make it better" in almost everything we do, to design better strategies, relationships, activities, or products (in General Design), or theories about the world (in Science-Design).  We use Evaluative Thinking often in life, whenever we hear a claim, or make a claim, and ask “what is the evidence-and-logic supporting this claim?”  When it's done well, Evaluative Thinking should promote logically appropriate humility, with a confidence that is not too little, not too much.  {Bertrand Russell, re: three kinds of error – being incorrect and/or having “confidence in being correct” that is too much or too little}  {Accurate Understanding - and thus appropriate humility? - with Respectful Attitudes}   /   Because evaluation is argumentation we can develop stimulating “argument activities” (with thinking + listening/talking or reading/writing) to help students improve the evaluative thinking they use in all design thinking, for reasoning that includes scientific thinking and general critical thinking.


{ full page for Transfers of Learning }




   Cognition-and-Metacognition in Education    (into right frame`)

Metacognition:   Thinking is cognition.  When you observe your thinking and think about thinking (maybe asking “how can I think more effectively?”) this is meta-cognition, which is cognition about cognition.

Cognition and Metacognition are closely related aspects of thinking that interact, so you can develop valuable strategies for using cognition-and-metacognition together in productive combinations, along with non-cognitive intuitions.  We also can recognize the special characteristics of cognition, and metacognition, and think about how to use each more effectively.


Understanding Self and Others:  Metacognition can help you understand yourself.  To understand other people, empathy is useful.  There are interesting relationships between metacognition (can it be self-empathy?) and empathy.

Topics in this page-summary are:  Introduction (you're in the middle of it now) - Performing and/or Learning - Strategies for Thinking (Why, How, What) - Effective Regulation of Metacognition.  And the next page-summary is designing Strategies for Thinking so you can Learn More from Your Experiences.


Awareness + Knowledge:  You combine metacognitive awareness (to observe your thinking) with your general & personal metacognitive knowledge about thinking, when you develop-and-use Thinking Strategies to improve your thinking, including your regulation of metacognition.

Situations & Objectives:  Educators and psychologists recognize that metacognition is valuable.  We can develop-and-use a variety of Thinking Strategies for making metacognition more valuable, due to the variety of application-situations for thinking in all areas of life, and variety of objectives for performing & learning:



Performing and/or Learning (and or Enjoying)   (put into right frame`)

When you want the best possible performance now, you're on-task with a Performance Objective.

When you want the best possible learning now, so you can improve your best possible performance later, you're on-task with a Learning Objective (i.e., an Education Objective).

These two related objectives can differ in priorities.  In the optimal blend of performing and/or learning you want,* how much value do you place on present performance (short-term excellence) and/or improved future performance (for long-term excellence)?   For example, compare the goals for a basketball player, or team, during a practice (when the main goal is to learn better, to prepare for the future) and a tournament game (when the main goal is to perform better, in the present), and how this difference affects everything.   {the website's home-page has a summary of learning and/or performing}

In this "and/or", the "and" is possible when your short-term and long-term objectives are supportive, so you can achieve both objectives.  For example, focusing on peak performance now may help you learn how to improve performance in the future.  The "or" is a recognition that sometimes you cannot maximize both performance and learning, so you must set priorities by asking “Do I want to maximize performance now, or later, or some optimal combination of both?”

Asking “what is the priority now?” is important in our designing of instruction and strategies for teaching, and for students.

{more about transfers of learning between Past, Present, and Future}


* Usually "the optimal blend of performing and/or learning you want" will include your goals for...

Short-Term Fun plus Long-Term Satisfactions... because with a broader perspective on life, you want a "blend of performing and/or learning" and/or enjoying.   (with each of these defined broadly`)

Often there is a link between performing and enjoying, due to “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat” in competitions with others, or with self when you are trying to be the best you can be.  When you perform better, you enjoy it more.  This connection between performing-and-enjoying strengthens the appeal of maximizing performance-and-fun now, tending to make it stronger than learning now so you can improve your maximum performance-and-fun later.   Ideally, we want students to be motivated in both ways, and a practical strategy is to begin with the simple appeal of wanting "fun now" because this is an important motivator for effective education.   Also, in-school activities are more enjoyable when students experience the satisfactions of success`;  hopefully this intrinsic motivation, wanting to pursue the fun-of-satisfaction, will become a desire to learn for life when a student believes that their Personal Education (in school and outside) will help them achieve their goals for life, for long-term enjoying.   Teachers can use motivational persuasion to help students shift the balance in their priorities from mainly Short-Term Fun/Satisfaction toward also Long-Term Satisfactions.

When we design goal-directed curriculum & instruction for ideas-and-skills & more we should try to optimize, for more students, the total value of performing-and-enjoying-and-learning, because all are important.    { We can aim for flow-and-fun now plus learning for later. }

more:  Brief illustrations — especially How to Become an Expert Welder (by Learning More from Experience) but also learning-versus-performance in basketball & classrooms, and for my tennis backhand — are in the full-length section.  Strategies for combining motivations — short-term (for better performing now) and long-term (for better performing later), instrinsic + interpersonal + personal + extrinsic — are examined in Tennis and Other Games.  The concept of including "enjoy", to expand perform/learn into perform/learn/enjoy, is from The Inner Game of Work, which emphasizes the educational value of learning from experience in your personally customized Greatest Seminar on Earth.

When you "aim for high quality of thinking-and-action" your main goal can be maximum learning, or maximum performing, or both.  Due to the possibility of “paralysis by analysis” it SOMETIMES (but NOT ALWAYS) is useful to ask "what have I learned in the past?"  Being wisely aware of self and situation – so you will know when to ask, and when to not ask – is being skillful in regulation of metacognition.


Broad Definitions:   enjoying includes both fun (now & later) and satisfactions (now & later), as explained above;   performing occurs when we do actions that are mental and/or physical;   learning occurs when we improve a wide range of ideas-and-skills (and more) that we combine to form productive thinking (and other productive actions) that we coordinate into a productive process of performing.   /   It's also educationally useful to have broad definitions of strategy & design thinking (to help us build integrative educational bridges) and of predictions, observations, experiments.


Strategies for Thinking   (put into right frame`)

WHY — The goal of a Thinking Strategy is to more effectively use cognition and metacognition (by regulating them) so you will improve the quality of your performing-enjoying-learning and “make your life better” with Personal Education.

WHO — Any person, including students & teachers, can be the "you" who is developing and using Strategies for Thinking.


What and How?  As explained earlier,

WHAT — Due to the wide variety of Situations and Objectives in life, we develop-and-use a wide variety of Thinking Strategies for skills that are mental and/or physical.

HOW — A combination of metacognitive Awareness + metacognitive Knowledge helps you learn from experience when you use a process of design (in Self-Regulated Learning) so you can develop-and-apply-and-improve Thinking Strategies by learning more from experience.


Now we'll examine "How" and "What" more closely.


HOW ? — with metacognitive Reflection + Knowledge + Regulation


• Metacognitive Reflection can help you learn more from your experiences, in all areas of life;  reflection is defined (in edutech-wiki) as "a metacognitive strategy, ... an active exploration of experiences to gain new or greater understanding."

Reflection = Awareness + Processing:  Sometimes raw unprocessed metacognitive awareness — to simply observe the situation (now or in the past) and your thinking (now or in the past) — is useful, by itself, without a conscious intention to learn.  But these situation-specific metacognitive observations usually are more valuable when you think about them, when metacognitive awareness plus cognitive processing produces metacognitive reflection that you use in cycles of "Plan and Do/Observe" to continually learn from your experiences, in a process of design when you use metacognition-plus-cognition to develop & apply & improve Strategies for Thinking.


Reflection in Instruction:  Reflection is part of a teaching sequence — experience, reflection, principles with teachers using reflection activities to help students learn more from their experiences — that can help students learn design-thinking principles from Design Process or from other models.

Flexibility of Timings:  In this teaching sequence, reflection by students can occur before, during, or after an activity-experience.

    Usually, students reflect on “what they did” AFTER their activity-experience.
    They also can reflect on “what are doing” DURING the activity.  But when they do this, their reflections interact with their experience in ways that can be either negative (that decrease their flow-and-fun or performance) or positive (with beneficial effects), or some of each.  Therefore it's wise to aim for effective regulation of students' metacognitive reflection by them (directly) or by a teacher (in using reflection activities).
    Students also can reflect BEFORE this experience, when they are asked to look back and think about their prior experiences that are similar to what they will be doing.  Or they can look ahead and think about their future experience, to reflect on “what they will do.”
    All 3 timings can be educationally useful.  Students can use metacognitive reflection to "learn more from their experiences," to "gain new or greater understanding" — with "an active exploration of experiences" { edutech-wiki}, with "serious and careful thought" {Cambridge Dictionary} — by reflecting before an experience, or after it, or (hopefully using "effective regulation of... reflection") during it, or at all of these times.

Thinking-Situation and Thinking-Actions:  With your metacognitive awareness you can observe your thinking-Situation (now or in the past) and your thinking-Actions (now or in the past).

What is a thinking-situation?

    A situation can involve only you, or (as in a context that is social and/or collaborative) you plus other people, or (in empathetic observation) only others.  Your context also can affect the process of reflection;  you can reflect by yourself, or in discussions with others that can be especially useful while coordinating a collaborative process.
    The situation you're observing can be small or large, narrow or wide.  You can reflect on a small-scale situation when your temporary focus is narrow because you want to achieve a specific short-term objective, such as a creatively divergent Generation of Ideas-for-Options.  But your awareness-of-situation has a wider scope when you observe the process-situation that is “where you are” in your overall process of design, which is a series of smaller-scale situations.  You can more effectively coordinate your process of design by combining awareness-of-process with Conditional Knowledge.

• Metacognitive Knowledge (about metacognition plus cognition, and their interactions) is used for metacognitive reflection while you are cognitively processing your metacognitive observations.  It includes general Metacognitive Knowledge — about persons (how we think, learn, perform) and tasks (situations, requirements, outcomes)* and strategies (each with its pros & cons) — plus personal Metacognitive Knowledge by “knowing yourself” based on observations of yourself (as the person) in the context of various tasks using different strategies.

* For example, a Thinking Strategy to improve your task-skill in learning from lectures is based on a foundation of knowledge about this skill, including knowledge you've learned from others (by searching for the Strategies they recommend, and why) and yourself (by remembering Strategies you've used in the past, along with your Actions in applying each strategy, and the Results of each application).     {metacognitive knowledge about many "skills for learning & performing"}

Conditional Knowledge will — when it's combined with process-awareness — help you coordinate a process of design so it's a very useful kind of Metacognitive Knowledge.   {can conditional knowledge be improved by knowing principles of Design Process?}


• Metacognitive Regulation (by making “what, how, when” decisions about the types, amounts, techniques, and timings of metacognition) can be viewed, when you develop & apply & improve Thinking Strategies, as a tool to use and a goal to achieve.   Regulating Metacognition


These interactive metacognitive-and-cognitive tools* for learning more from experience — when you do Reflection, gain & use Knowledge, do Regulation — can be done with or without a model of Design Process, but often they are more effective with it.   /   * functional interactions between components of cognition/metacognition



• Strategies for Everything:  An extremely wide range of strategies — which includes strategies for thinking productively and for much more — is the main reason I claim that we use a process of design for doing almost everything in life.

You can use a process of design to develop Thinking Strategies for most aspects of life, in a wide range of situations, to improve your learning (when you read, listen, watch, do) and/or performing (of skills that are mental and physical), for...

Learning by Performing - Transfers of Learning - Teaching - Physical Skills - Productive Creative-and-Critical Thinking & Process-Coordinating - Meta-Strategies - and the basic “how to do it” Thinking Strategy of Regulating Metacognition by deciding when-and-how to use (or not use) cognition/metacognition of various kinds.

Here are some common types of aspects-and-situations:


• Strategies for Learning are actually Strategies for Learning-by-Performing.  To illustrate, imagine that one of your objectives is to learn more from lectures.  To improve this Learning Skill, you develop a Thinking Strategy by using a process of design that includes Quality Control to improve the quality of your performing-actions when you actualize the Strategy/Skill by converting it from idea into action, when you are actually learning from a lecture by performing during the lecture.    {Learning and/or Performing}


• Strategies for Transfers of Learning:  In many situations but not all,* you can get better performance — now or later — with metacognitive Strategies for Transfer by "Learning from the Past" to improve present performance, or "Learning for the Future" by using present learning to improve future performance.   /   Sometimes turning metacognition off will improve present performance.


• Strategies for Teaching:  Teachers design/apply/improve Teaching Strategies that includes the “external metacognition* they empathetically provide by observing students while asking “what are they thinking? how? why?” and “how can I design instruction to help them perform-enjoy-learn more effectively?” and “how should I guide students?” by asking or answering questions, giving tips, and providing formative feedback.

Teachers also help students learn how to generate-and-use their own formative feedback.  With guiding a teacher can promote metacognitive reflections by students, to help them perform better now and also learn how to guide themselves so they can perform better in the future.  And teachers can motivate students to proactively pursue their Personal Education with Thinking Strategies for “learning how to learn and/or perform more effectively” in school and in life, with transfer-bridges between school and life.

* If internal self-metacognition is thinking about what-and-how you are thinking, does analogous external empathetic metacognition occur when you think with empathy by trying to understand, based on observations & interpretations, what-and-how others are thinking & feeling, and why?  A similar shifting of perspective about internal/external, in our use of terms, is metacognitive self-empathy to be aware of your own thinking & feeling.   /   I've “answered” these questions by making decisions about terms;  I avoid empathetic metacognition because it's actually empathetic understanding, but I use external metacognition to describe the feedback that is produced by a filtering of understanding;  and I use self-empathy.   These choices are consistent with the choices made by other educators, re: their avoiding and using of terms.

A Wide Range of Contexts for Empathy:  Trying to think with empathy is useful in education and in other contexts.  It's useful for teachers & coaches and also for community leaders, business managers, and others.  Basically, accurate understanding (of self & others) is useful for everyone, in a very wide range of life-situations.


• Strategies for Physical Skills

Mental and/or Physical:  You use a process of design to develop-and-apply a wide variety of strategies to improve skills that are mental and/or physical because physical skills usually are mental-and-physical skills, and sometimes mainly-Mental Skills also have a physical component.

Regulation of Cognition/Metacognition:  For improving physical skills, coaches have a wide range of views about effective regulation of cognition-and-metacognition.  At one end of the spectrum, an inner game strategy emphasizes the value of raw metacognitive awareness of “what is” with minimal cognitive processing during an activity.

Learning More from Experience:  A general strategy for mental-and-physical skill is using a process of design to learn more from experience in a very wide range of activities, as illustrated by speaking and singing or how a friend became an expert welder or How I Didn't Learn to Ski (and then did learn, with perseverance + flexibility).


• Strategies for Productive Thinking:  You can use Thinking Strategies that usually include cognitive/metacognitive reflection (plus metacognitive knowledge) to improve the quality of productive thinking that occurs during short-term sequences of problem-solving actions.  For example, 5 ways to creatively generate ideas include Guided Generation (by using critical evaluation for stimulation-and-guiding) and Free Generation by turning critical evaluation off-and-on with Brainstorm-and-Evaluate and by reducing restrictive assumptions.  Most models for a process-of-design are educationally useful because they provide a structure (for instruction) and strategies (for thinking).  To promote productive thinking in schools — by helping students learn more from their experiences (will “principles for productive thinking” help us do this?) — a useful teaching strategy is to help students use-and-learn one or more models-for-process, including Design Process


• Strategies for Coordinating:  During a process of design, you coordinate your thinking-and-actions by making action decisions about “what to do next.”  How?  During skillful coordination you combine cognitive/metacognitive awareness (of your problem-solving process) with Conditional Knowledge (by knowing, for each skill, what it lets you accomplish, and the conditions in which it will be useful).   /   i.o.u. - also, you can coordinate collaboration (for effective work individually-and-cooperatively, to increase overall productivity by group, with optimal perform+learn+enjoy)

Educational Value:  Teaching principles of Design Process can help students improve their Coordination Strategies (improve their Conditional Knowledge and — so they can skillfully coordinate their thinking skills into whole-process skills when they are solving problems (in design-inquiry) and answering questions (in science-inquiry).   {two kinds of inquiry}


• Meta-Strategies are used to coordinate other strategies by making action-decisions about strategies (which ones to use, when, and how) more effectively and wisely, for pursuing short-term objectives, and maybe also the long-term objectives that help you achieve your whole-life goals for ideas-and-skills & more.   /   Two valuable meta-strategies are the personal disciplines of quality control (for all people) or mindful meditation, and (for some people & some educational situations) using prayer.


• Strategies for Regulation of Metacognition:  In most Thinking Strategies the main “strategy” is deciding when-and-how to use cognition/metacognition of various kinds, as explained below.  And an important Teaching Strategy is deciding when-and-how you do (or don't) want to ask metacognitive reflection questions.


Regulating Metacognition

Sometimes you'll want to stimulate performing/learning by using metacognition of a particular type, used in a particular way (re: amount, timing,...).*  At other times you will “go with the flow” by just thinking-and-doing (instead of thinking about thinking) to allow performing/learning by avoiding metacognition.  You can make better regulation decisions about turning metacognition on and off — deciding whether to use it or avoid it — if you increase your general & personal Metacognitive Knowledge.

* You design a Thinking Strategy by making decisions about the types/amounts & timings of cognition and metacognition you want.     { And even though "turning metacognition on and off" oversimplifies the complex blending of cognition-and-metacognition (plus sub-conscious processing & feedback) you want, these binary concepts ("on and off", "use it or avoid it") can be useful if they're not interpreted literally. }

The full-length section describes...

    Opportunities for Metacognition (during interludes when you're not deeply engaged in productive thinking-and-action (e.g. to learn from lectures what timings for metacognition are best? using what types & amounts?),
    Timings of Preparation-and-Production
(illustrated by action-decisions while writing a paper),
    Using Intuition Wisely
(should you trust it?  maybe, sometimes),
    Avoiding Procrastination (are you avoiding a high-priority task because it's unpleasant? or it seems overwhelming?), (although deciding “what to do” by finding a problem and deciding to solve it can be difficult, sometimes “what you should do” is obvious unless you ignore it so you can avoid it by procrastinating)   {use a "swiss cheese" strategy to “poke holes” in a task so it seems less overwhelming and/or unpleasant}
    Knowing Yourself (in your personal Metacognitive Knowledge),
    Learning and/or Performing (you should decide whether you want to improve one of these, or a combination of both, because metacognition often is productive for Learning, but less often is productive for Performing,* so your answers when asking “on or off?” may differ when your goal-emphasis shifts between Learning and Performing)     /     [and if, like me, you are a person who prays, you will want to distinguish between praying for everything (yes) and praying constantly (no) so you can regulate how you do (and don't) “think about God” and “talk with God” before-during-after your actions]
    and Skillful Metacognition because...
In situations where metacognition is unproductive — if there is too much introspection of the wrong kind or with the wrong timing, so it's a distraction — the difficulty is not metacognition, it's unskillful metacognition, due to a deficiency in skillfully regulating metacognition.

* Skillful Performance:  Sometimes, but not other times, metacognition is useful for performance.  When?

IF  Actual Performance = Potential Performance – Distracting Interference ,


  due to Abilities  
+ Preparation
due to
THEN (quoting from the full-length section) "you want to increase Potential Performance — which depends on Abilities (inherited & developed) and Preparation (for a particular Performance-Situation) — and decrease Distracting Interference (mental, emotional, or physical).  To maximize Actual Performance, an effective regulation of metacognition optimizes it by... turning it on (when it will improve Potential Performance) and off (when it would be a Distracting Interference)."

* This formula-for-performance is a principle of "inner game" approaches to performing-enjoying-learning that (along with other ideas, and links to other authors) are examined in Regulating Cognition-and-Metacognition for Optimal Performance and Learning.


A Process for Evaluating Metacognition:  In a variation of the formula above, we can evaluate the effects of metacognition more accurately-and-precisely by recognizing that...

    INTERFERENCE includes metacognitive distractions plus other kinds of distractions;
    and the effects of metacognition can be productive (when it's a part of your "Abilities + Preparation" that is being actualized in higher-quality performing) or distracting (when it's part of your "Interference");
and your total metacognition includes particular types of metacognition (mc1, mc2, ...) used in specific ways (re: amount, timings,...), so  total metacognition = mc1 + mc2 + ...

You can estimate the effects caused by one type of metacognition, such as mc2, in a two-step process:   first, in a Mental Experiment you imagine what your Actual Performances would be without mc2 and with mc2, and/or in a Physical Experiment you observe what your Actual Performances are without mc2 and with mc2;   second, you compare these Performances (without mc2 versus with mc2) to estimate the overall effect of mc2.  Typically your Actual Performance will be affected by mc2 in ways that are beneficial (due to productive mc2, with positive effects, +) and are detrimental (due to distracting mc2, with negative effects, ).   This method of estimating the overall effect of mc2 is summarized here:

with mc2
  without mc2  
overall effect
of mc2
with mc2
without mc2
  + productive mc2  
  – distracting mc2  

Value for Performing:  The overall effect-on-Performance due to this type of metacognition (mc2) can be beneficial, if the beneficial effects of mc2 (+ productive mc2) are larger than the detrimental effects of mc2 (– distracting mc2).  Or the overall effects of mc2 can be detrimental.  If the overall effects are detrimental, you can decide to avoid using mc2, or to use mc2 in a different way, re: its amount, timing,...   If the overall effects are beneficial, you can try to make mc2 more effective (and make your Performance better) by experimenting, by using mc2 in different ways and observing the effects, searching for ways to increase the productive mc2 and/or to decrease the distracting mc2.  For example, you might observe that mc2 is beneficial when you use it before a Performance (to prepare, to improve your quality-of-performance now) and also after the Performance (to review, to learn from the experience so you can improve your quality-of-performance later), but not during the Performance.     { But you might find that mc1 (another kind of metacognition) is beneficial when you use it, in specific ways that may depend on the Performance-Situation, during a Performance. }

Value for Learning:  In some situations – as in a typical practice session – you may want to use mc2 during your Performances even though this decreases your quality-of-Performing now, if using mc2 will help you learn more from your experiences now, so you can increase your quality-of-Performing later because you think this is more important.     {a non-metacognitive personal example from tennis in high school, when temporarily decreasing my performance (during practice) produced a future increasing of my performance (during competitions)}

Value for Enjoying:  Does using mc2 (before, during, or after) help you improve your quality-of-enjoying now and/or later?

Total Value:  Metacognition can affect performing plus learning and enjoying so we can ask “how does metacognitive reflection affect the total value of an experience?”  {optimizing flow-and-fun}


Intuition:  This page summary about cognition-and-metacognition doesn't examine the functions of non-cognitive (and semi-cognitive) intuition and its interactions with cognition & metacognition.   (iou - Eventually I will say more about this here.)


MORE about Metacognition – my full page and ideas from other authors.



   Designing Strategies for Thinking    (into right frame`)



Strategies for Thinking — that you develop-and-improve by using a cognitive-and-metacognitive process of design — can help you increase the quality of your performing-enjoying-learning in many areas of life for better Performing/Learning (mentally & physically), Transfers of Learning, and Teaching, plus Meta-Strategies to coordinate your strategies for Personal Education.


HOW (Part 1) — Learning from Experience

A process of design — used to develop all strategies, including this wide range of Strategies for Thinking — is a way to improve (to "make things better") by learning from experience:

    based on your understandings from previous life-experience, you make a plan for what to do;
    you do the plan and observe what happens;
    using your experience,* you adjust (if you think this will help) when you plan for "what to do" the next time,
    when you will do and observe
    so you can learn from this experience when you plan for the next-next time,
    and you continue using these cycles of design when you “plan, do and observe, plan, do and observe, plan,...”
    * of course, "your experience" can include your own first-hand experiences (that you remember) plus the second-hand experiences of other people (that you observe, that you see, hear about, read about).     { experiences and experiments – how are they similar & different. and causally related? }
This "learning from experience" occurs naturally for all of us, in most areas of life, when we do cognitive-and-metacognitive reflection.  But in many situations this process of reflection-and-change will be more effective when it's understood more deeply by using principles of Design Process,* as described below in "How (Part 2)".     {or, discover principles for yourself by reflecting on a brief summary of 4 Ways to Use Experiences}

* ...and/or by using principles from other models-for-learning.  For example, the principles of Design Process are very similar to principles for Self-Regulated Learning that include general strategies encouraging explicit self-reflection, and...  also are closely related to strategies that superficially seem a little less similar, such as inner-game approaches to learning.   All of these thinking strategies can help improve performing and/or learning in a wide range of situations (to learn from all experience and pursue all objectives) for mental & physical skills.  How?  Basically, a Thinking Strategy helps you more effectively regulate your cognition-and-metacognition in a particular situation, to help you achieve your goals.

I.O.U. – Growth Mindset + Grit (do summary here, quote Duckworth on Dweck, re: using all experience as "information" to learn from, as in my broad definition of education as learning from life-experience;  for both (GM + Grit) seek out challenges, learn from ALL experience as in ws.htm#mcsall, don't avoid potential failure-situations because challenges can be great opportunities for learning) (make new page, cm-gm) (also check ws.htm#mo2 for another summary/iou)



HOW (Part 2) — learn by Using Cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR

The cycles of GENERATE-and-EVALUATE that you see in Diagram 1` are described in Stage 1 (of a five-stage family of related models for Design Process).  Two kinds of evaluative Quality Checks, using comparisons, are shown in Diagram 2a, and explained in Stage 2a.

This section, about Stage 2b, explains how cycles of GENERATE-and-EVALUATE (the focus in Stages 1 & 2a) can operate within the broader cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR shown in Diagram 2b.


To illustrate the process in Diagram 2b, let's imagine that your Objective is to improve your skill in learning from lectures;*  your Goals (for desired Results) are increased quality-and-quantity of learning, with increased accuracy-and-thoroughness of your understanding & remembering.   /   Later we'll look at strategies for improving physical skills, as in better speaking and singing or sport-skills, plus other objectives when you want to improve another kind of strategy, or a relationship, activity, product, or explanation.

One Cycle of PLAN-and-MONITOR:
    To mentally PLAN you use your metacognitive knowledge (general & personal) to mentally GENERATE-and-EVALUATE Strategy-Options using Quality Checks — by mentally COMPARING your Goals (for desired Results) with your mental Predictions (about expected Results) and physical Observations (of actual Results) — so you can...
    CHOOSE a Strategy-Option to use for a Physical Experiment in which you...
    physically MONITOR (you USE the chosen Strategy-Option, and OBSERVE the Situation, your Actions, the Results).    {terms: You can describe MONITOR as USE-and-OBSERVE or DO-and-OBSERVE or both.}
Many Cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR:
    After the first lecture, these new Observations (from MONITOR) supplement old Observations & Predictions, so you are using all available information (old and new) for Evaluation when — with metacognitive reflection on what you've learned from this experience, and asking “do I want to ADJUST my Strategy and/or Strategy-Applying Actions?” — ...
    you re-PLAN (you GENERATE-and-EVALUATE, CHOOSE) for the second lecture, in which you MONITOR (you USE-and-OBSERVE).
    Then you PLAN for the third lecture, and MONITOR in the third lecture.
    You continue using PLAN-and-MONITOR cycles (PLAN, MONITOR, PLAN, MONITOR,...) to learn from experience and improve your skill in learning from lectures.
    During these cycles and/or between them, you also can improve your metacognitive knowledge (general and/or personal) about HOW to learn from lectures.



Diagrams 2b and 2c` show the same process, but in 2c both PLAN & MONITOR are simplified in some ways, and there are two major changes:


• First, 2c is generalized because...

although in Diagram 2b the problem-solving objective is specific ("Choose a Strategy-Option"), in 2c it's general ("Choose an Option").  Why?  Because a similar process of design — operating in cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR that include cycles of Generate-and-Evaluate when you PLAN so you can "Choose an Option" to use for a Physical Experiment — is the process you use for ALL objectives (whether your main objective is a better strategy, product, activity, relationship, or theory), not just for thinking strategies and other kinds of strategies.

But on its right side, 2c (not 2b) shows the thinking stimulated by asking "do I want to ADJUST...?".  This occurs in a Design Cycle when during Guided Generation you "use feedback from critical Evaluation [done now with additional new Observations] to guide your creative Generation of Options in the next Design Cycle of Generate-and-Evaluate" when you re-PLAN, or (from a wider perspective) in the next Design Cycle of PLAN-AND-MONITOR.  The same Design Cycle is on the right side of Diagrams 2c (asking "Adjust? revise Option?" and 3b (asking "revise Option?").

When you initially PLAN you must depend on old Observations (of “what did happen when...”) and old Predictions (about “what would happen if...”) from personal & collective memories plus new Predictions from your current Mental Experiments.  In each new cycle of PLAN-and-MONITOR you have additional new Observations to consider during your next re-PLAN, as you continue learning from experience.   /   During each PLAN you can try to "consider all things" (or at least all of the most important things), as shown in Diagram 2d.


• Second, 2c shows that

PLAN = Experimental Design:  As stated in Diagrams 2c`, you "PLAN by Designing an Experiment."  How?  In iterative cycles, you Generate-and-Evaluate two kinds of Options, for a Problem-Solution* and for an Experimental Situation.  Then you "CHOOSE What-and-How to USE, to Actualize in a Physical Experiment."  You CHOOSE What to USE (it's a potential Solution you want to Physically Test) and How to USE it (by letting it operate in a Situation).  Together, this What-and-How produces an Experimental System (as described in Stage 4 of a 5-stage progression of learning) that you can run in a Mental Experiment (during PLAN) or (during MONITOR) in a Physical Experiment.   /   Earlier, while describing a process of PLAN-and-MONITOR to design a Thinking Strategy, I assumed that the experimental Situation was your next lecture, so you only had to CHOOSE the Strategy you would USE in this fixed Situation.  But in many contexts for design, you also can CHOOSE the Situation.

* You "Generate-and-Evaluate... Options for a Problem-Solution" when your objective is a Strategy, Relationship, Activity, or Product, in General Design.  But in Science-Design, when your main objective is an explanatory Model, you Generate-and-Evaluate Options for a Model.  Stage 4 begins by showing (in the top-left & top-right parts of Diagram 4a) and explaining two kinds of inquiry:  in General Design (used for solving problems with design-inquiry) your objective is a Strategy, Activity, Relationship, or Product, and in Science-Design (used for answering questions with science-inquiry) your objective is an explanatory Model.  Stage 4 then continues by explaining how you design an Experimental System in each type of inquiry.

a summary for General Design:  During PLAN, you CHOOSE What to USE (a Solution-Option) and How to USE it (in a Situation);  this What-and-How defines an Experimental System you can run in a Mental Experiment (during PLAN to make Predictions) or (during MONITOR to make Observations) in a Physical Experiment;  then, in Quality Checks (in which Quality is defined by your Goals) you COMPARE Goals with Predictions or with Observations.

a summary for Science-Design:  During PLAN, you CHOOSE What to USE (a Model-Option) and How to USE it (in a Situation);  this What-and-How defines an Experimental System you can run in a Mental Experiment & Physical Experiment, to make Model-based Predictions & Reality-based Observations that you COMPARE in a Reality Check.


Other Models for Design Thinking:  In my model for Design Process, Learning from Experience is Stage 2b (that "places more emphasis on learning from experience by using new Observations, which are produced during MONITOR") in a five-stage progression of learning.  A strong emphasis on new Observations (relative to old Observations or old/new Predictions) also is used in most other models-for-process that have a long-term phase devoted to physical testing, which sometimes is called testing a prototype, especially when the testing is quick & cheap.  And physical testing, by using Reality Checks, is the foundation of modern science.   /   My model for Plan-and-Monitor is closely related to models used for Self-Regulated Learning and by Engineering is Elementary.

Comparing Models:  In the Plan-and-Monitor model for Design Process, Diagram 2c` explains that at the end of PLAN you Choose an Option (for a Strategy, Relationship, Activity, Product, or Theory) "to USE, to Actualize in a Physical Experiment" so you can make Observations.  In some other models-for-process this action (to Use, by Designing-and-Actualizing) is called Building a Prototype and Testing It, or Testing a Prototype, or Prototyping, or something similar.


Adjustments for General Design and Science-Design

Diagram 2b` shows that during MONITOR you Choose a Strategy to use, and then you "OBSERVE the Situation, your Actions, the Results."  Then you can decide whether to ADJUST each of these, during your next re-PLAN.

General Design:  In the example above your main objective is to improve a Thinking Strategy (which you're "making better" with General Design) for learning from lectures.  If your Results don't match your Goals, you may decide that your Strategy-Actualizing Actions need to be adjusted/improved (by using Quality Control), or that your Strategy should be adjusted.  You also can adjust your Goals for desired Results, with the flexibility of timing shown in all diagrams (including 2b & 2c) by a small upward arrow between the long-term phases of Define a Problem and Solve the Problem.

Science-Design:  If you are surprised because your Predictions (about the Situation, Actions, or Results) didn't match your Observations, this failed Reality Check indicates a need to adjust your explanatory Model(s) or the way you are using your Model(s) to make Predictions.


Learning by Performing:  Although your Goal is a Result that is "increased quality-and-quantity of learning," you achieve this Result with the Action of performing well so you can learn well.  This illustrates how "Strategies for Learning are actually Strategies for Learning by Performing."   {Quality Control for Strategy-Applying Actions}   /   Earlier, I say "after the first lecture... when you re-PLAN... for the second lecture" which implies that learning (to improve future performing) occurs only between lectures.  But, of course, you also can re-PLAN during a lecture, to improve your performing later in the same lecture.


Timing of Metacognition:  In the MONITOR part of PLAN-and-MONITOR you can do metacognitive observing of your thinking-Actions and your learning-Results.  When you observe, what timing is most beneficial?  During a lecture, should you use metacognitive observing (to help you re-PLAN, immediately or later), or avoid metacognitive observing (so you can focus on the lecture) and then “observe what happened during the lecture” by remembering it after the lecture?  Your strategies to regulate metacognition (re: types, amounts, timings) will depend on your objectives for performing and/or learning.

Observations by Others:  In all situations, you can observe.  In many situations, another person (a teacher, student, colleague, friend) can observe and provide feedback, as with coaching.  A valuable “master skill” is being able (and willing) to learn from others, with Productive Responses to Feedback.


Quality Control for Strategy-Applying Actions

The goal of Quality Control is to control (to observe-and-improve) your Quality of Actualization, to improve your Strategy-Applying Actions that actualize your Strategy by converting it from a mentally-planned possibility into a physically-actualized reality.   /   For all problem-objectives – for Strategies, Relationships, Activities, Products, Theories – a solution must be actualized (by converting it from possibility into reality)* in order to be useful, and it should have Quality Control for the Quality of Actualizing.   {*What if the objective is an idea?}

An effective PLAN requires evaluating your Strategy-Applying Actions (aka Strategy-Actualizing Actions) in order to evaluate your Strategy.  Why?  Because your observed Results are produced by an Actualized Strategy with two parts:  your Strategy, and your Actions in actualizing the Strategy.   {my color coding for strategies is analogous to pigment colors, with blue + red producing purple}    Therefore, during a re-PLAN you ask “should I revise my Actions and/or my Strategy?” so you EVALUATE both parts.  How?

The observed Results depend on your Strategy (so you ask “could it be effective IF it's done well?”) and your Strategy-Applying Actions (“was it done well?”) operating in the context of an external Situation (“was it what I expected?”).  To distinguish between the effects of these factors (Strategy + Actions, and Situation) you use your imagination to make Predictions about the ways your Strategy-Applying Actions could improve,* how likely this is, and how an improved Actualized Strategy (as it could be in the future, with same Strategy but improved Actions) would change your Results.  These predictions will help you decide whether to retain your current Strategy as-is, or adjust it, or consider other Strategy-Options.

* Improving is more likely to happen when you design strategies to improve your Strategy-Actualizing Actions, so your observed Actions will more closely match your goals for desired Actions, which will help you achieve your desired Results.   /   goals (for Results) and sub-goals (for Actions)


Frequency Control:  You also can use Quality Control for deciding when to use each Thinking Strategy.  The goal of this “frequency control” — to control (to observe-and-improve) your frequency of Strategy-Application — is to make action-decisions effectively so you will use each Thinking Strategy at every appropriate time (no more, no less), whenever it will help you learn and/or perform more effectively.  This meta-strategy (which requires self-knowledge and self-discipline) is important because a potentially valuable Thinking Strategy will be actually valuable only when you use it.


Learning from Experience for ALL Objectives

As described earlier, you can learn more from experience by using a design-thinking process of PLAN-and-MONITOR in a wide variety of situations for Thinking Strategies, to improve your performing and/or learning for a wide range of mental & physical skills.  You also use this process to design other kinds of strategies for "situations that are educational (as a teacher), social, romantic, athletic, political, military, legal, financial, entrepreneurial, nutritional, agricultural, or ecological."

In fact, a very similar process of design is used to solve problems by "making it better" for ALL objectives, whether you want to design a better Strategy or Relationship or Activity or Product (in General Design) or (in Science-Design) a better explanatory Theory.  When your objective changes, the basic process of design remains the same:

    As described earlier, in a cycle of PLAN-and-MONITOR when your objective is a Strategy,...
to PLAN for a Physical Experiment, you "CHOOSE a Strategy-Option to use for a Physical Experiment in which you MONITOR (you USE the chosen Strategy-Option in a chosen Situation,* and you OBSERVE)."
    If instead your objective is a Product,...
to PLAN for a Physical Experiment, you CHOOSE a Product-Option to use for a Physical Experiment in which you MONITOR (you USE the chosen Product-Option in a chosen Situation,* and you OBSERVE). 
    * When you choose an Option-and-Situation, you are Designing an Experiment.

In a traditional Design Project (when your objective isn't instead a metacognitive Thinking Strategy), eventually you stop “Generating Ideas and (by using Mental Experiments & Physical Experiments) Evaluating Ideas” because you Make a Project-Decision by deciding that one Option is a Solution for your Problem, that it's the Solution you want to Implement.  Diagram 2cD shows this point in a project, when during a re-PLAN you say “no more revising” because you have decided that this Option (as-it-is now) is the SOLUTION you will IMPLEMENT.


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.  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.  {Motivations & More: Self-Perception and Developing a Growth Mindset}

Learning From a Wider Range of Experiences:  If you're not overly worried about making mistakes in situations when a mistake doesn't matter much — by contrast with “don't make a mistake” situations like climbing a mountain or driving a car — you can decide to “go for it” in a wider range of actions.  Doing this will increase the range of your experiences and your opportunities for learning.  You will be using an adventurous “wanting to learn” strategy like that of Pablo Picasso: “I am often doing what I cannot do, so I may learn how to do it.”     {Getting More Experiences and Learning More from Experiences}


Timings for Intention:  You can learn from an experience, whether or not you had defined an explicit "PLAN" for the experience.  A conscious intention to learn — by asking “what can I learn now that will help me later?” — can occur before an experience, during it, or afterward.  For example,...

A general strategy for learning from experience, in all areas of life, is illustrated by learning from an exam in which (unlike most areas of life) there is a clear defining of answers that are correct and incorrect.  For each exam-question you missed, ask “WHY did I miss it?” — was this caused by not enough studying time? not studying in the most productive ways? not performing well during the exam, so you “knew” but didn't get credit? or...? — and “HOW can I fix it?” so the next time you will get it correct.  Of course, you also can learn from what you did well, so you can do it again.  More generally, whether or not there is a "correct" response,...

An inner game approach describes "learning from ALL experience" as learning in your personally customized Greatest Seminar on Earth.



Strategies to improve Physical Skills

In this page-summary the focus is using a process of design to develop-and-apply Thinking Strategies to improve Thinking Skills.  But you also improve Physical (and Mental/Physical) Skills by learning from experience.  To illustrate the use of design-thinking for mental/physical skills, we'll look at strategies to improve your speaking and singing, using a process of problem-solving design in cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR.


Improve your Speaking

Imagine that you're learning a new language and you want to speak it with less foreign accent, to improve your pronunciation.  How can you do this?

Define a Problem:  You Prepare by observing the sounds of skillful native speakers, listening carefully so you develop clear-and-accurate memories for each Sound when it's pronounced well, so you can Define your Goal-Sounds.  You COMPARE these Goal-Sounds with Your Sounds (when you speak) in Quality Checks that help you find a problem (an opportunity to "make it better") and Define your Objective that is a Sound you want to improve.

Solve the Problem:  In an effort to make Your Sound match the Goal-Sound you want, try a variety of Speaking Strategies by adjusting your Sound Factors (the way you use your mouth, lips, tongue, vocal chords,...)* and observe the Results.  You use evaluative Quality Checks by COMPARING Your Sound (observed) with the Goal-Sound (remembered), adjust when you think this will help, and continue experimenting-and-adjusting so you can learn from experience to improve the quality of Your Sound, and transfer the quality from this controlled practice into real-life conversations.   /   Maybe your invention of Speaking Strategies can be guided by technique-principles you learn from a teacher, friend, web-page, or video.

MORE – details of a process to improve speaking by using cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR – my Resources for ESL EducationLearning More from Experience (including both success & failure) with a wide variety of examples, including “how my friend became an expert welder” and more.


You also can improve your Sound Quality by using a process like the strategy to "Improve your Singing" outlined below.


Creative Experimenting:  To more effectively improve your speaking or singing, practice in private because this will help you relax so you can freely experiment and observe what happens with a variety of ways to speak or sing.


Improve your Singing

To improve your speaking (above) or singing, you can use a similar process of design to learn from experience.

Sound Quality:  You try a variety of Singing Strategies by adjusting your Sound Factors while observing Your Sound, which in Quality Checks you COMPARE with the Goal-Sound you want.   { You can pre-define a Goal-Sound, or just “recognize what you want when you hear it.” }   Continue a process of experimenting-and-adjusting to improve your Sound Quality, and transfer the quality from practice into performance.

Pitch Quality:  A very important aspect of singing is your Quality of Pitch-Matching, because you want Your Pitch to closely match your Goal-Pitch that is the Correct Pitch.

Harmonizing:  In a creative extension of pitch-matching, you learn from experimenting-and-adjusting so you can improve your skill in producing pitches that “harmonize well” with other pitches.     {the art & science of improvising harmonies}

Improvising:  More generally, you can make your own music with creative improvising, by playing with all aspects of singing, by doing experiments (with melodies, harmonies, rhythms, styles, moods, and more) that produce new experiences, so you can learn from your experiences.



   Productive Thinking    (into left frame`)


When you effectively combine creative thinking and critical thinking with relevant knowledge, the result is productive thinking.

color symbolism:  In my diagrams for our process of problem solving,  creative thinking + critical thinkingproductive thinking,  with red + bluepurple,  as in color-combining with pigments.


Process of Productive Thinking

You can think productively — with high quality creative-and-critical thinking based on useful ideas-knowledge — throughout a process of design thinking (used for almost everything in life) when you are Defining a Problem (by learning more so you understand more accurately-and-thoroughly, choosing an objective, and defining goals for a satisfactory solution) and while you are trying to Solve the Problem (by creatively Generating Ideas and critically Evaluating Ideas in Cycles of Design).

To convert your productive thinking into a productive process-of-thinking, you use process-knowledge (especially conditional knowledge) to coordinate your process of design by making action-decisions about “what to do next.”

* More generally, the process-results you want are productive actions, which are not limited to just productive thinking because actions are mental and/or physical.


Wise Actions:  In most of this page-summary of Productive Thinking, the focus is creative Idea-Generation because it's important, fascinating, and challenging.  But usually critical Idea-Evaluation is more important.  Why?  Because if creative ideas are converted into action too quickly — without sufficiently wise evaluation — the result can be unwise action.  Evaluation is essential for each part of a problem-solving Design Project, when you Define a Problem (so you'll have worthy Objectives & Goals) and Solve the Problem (so you'll design a satisfactory Solution).


Five Ways to Generate Ideas

During a process of problem-solving design, you Generate Options (for a problem-solution) by finding-and-selecting an old Option or inventing a new Option, as described in Mode 2A ("A Wide Variety of Knowledge") and "Old plus New" and Mode 2B.  You can generate ideas by Research, Revision, Analysis, Guided Generation, and/or Free Generation.  It's "and/or" because all of these ways-to-generate are compatible, and they can be combined during a Design Cycle or Science Cycle.

• RESEARCH:  Find old Options, and select one of them.   /   Learning more (so you understand more accurately-and-thoroughly) is valuable for improving productivity in all 10 modes of design-thinking action (mental and/or physical), not just to Generate Solution-Options.

• REVISION:  To invent a new Option, you can revise an old Option to improve it.  When revising, often a useful strategy is...

• ANALYSIS:  To invent a new Option using Revision-by-Analysis (i.e. Analysis-and-Revision) you analyze an old Option into its features, and think about ways to revise each feature,* trying to achieve a closer match with your Goals;  or you can do this with two (or more) options, looking for ways to combine the best of both.   {usually revision-of-features is guided by critical evaluation-of-features, by how you think each feature affects the overall quality of an Option (with quality defined by your goals for a satisfactory solution) so usually there are close connections between Revision, Analysis, and Guided Generation}   {more about Revision using Analysis}

• GUIDED GENERATION:  You can use critical Evaluation of Ideas to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of Ideas.   {more about Guided Generation}

• FREE GENERATION:  You can try to reduce restrictions on your thinking, to allow a freely creative Generation of Ideas.   {more about Free Generation}


Empathy:  While you're generating ideas in any of these ways (or others), thinking with empathy leads to useful new perspectives & insights, helping you understand-and-think more productively.

Strategies for Productive Thinking:  You can try to develop Strategies for Productive Thinking (to improve your Knowledge-of-Ideas and your uses of Generative Thinking and Evaluative Thinking and your Coordination of Process).

Principles for Productive Thinking:  Letting students discover principles of Design Process and other models (through experience + reflection) can help them understand Guided Generation and improve their skill in using it.  These principles also can help students develop other Thinking Strategies that include improving their Conditional Knowledge which is useful for Coordinating their Process of Design.

Combining Models:  In many other models-for-process (such as d.school of Stanford) the main objective is to help students think more productively, to improve their skills in high-quality Design Thinking.  Our effectiveness in teaching actions-and-process can improve when we combine principles from Design Process and other models-for-process, and work collaboratively to develop strategies for creatively combining models during instruction.

Interactions:  You can improve the productivity of interactions between creative thinking and critical thinking — as in Guided Generation and Free Generation — by understanding the difference between two meanings of "critical" thinking.




Eventually, maybe sometime in 2024 (iou), I will write this section by selecting-and-condensing ideas from Creative Uses of Analytical Thinking which describes productive strategies for using analysis creatively, to generate new Options by revising old Options.  One strategy is to...

COMPARE the features/properties of an Option with Goals AND with other Options to supplement using Multiple Quality Checks to determine Quality Status.


Until this section is developed more thoroughly, Five Ways to Generate Ideas (in the introduction for Productive Thinking) has a good summary:

    REVISION:  To invent a new Option, you can revise an old Option to improve it.  When revising, often a useful strategy is...
    ANALYSIS:  To invent a new Option using Revision-by-Analysis (i.e. Analysis-and-Revision), you analyze an old Option into its features, and think about ways to revise each feature, trying to achieve a closer match with your Goals;  or you can do this with two (or more) options, looking for ways to combine the best of both.



Creative GUIDED GENERATION (of Ideas for Options) by

using a creative process of Retroductive GENERATION


Critical Thinking can guide Creative Thinking:  The critical-and-creative process of Guided Generation — which occurs when your critical Evaluation of Options stimulates-and-guides your creative Generation of Options — is an essential part of Design Cycles & Science Cycles and is explained verbally-and-visually.

Retroductive Generation is another way to view (and describe) Guided Generation:  in critical-and-creative Guided Generation during a process of General Design, in Cycles of Design you do many Mental Experiments, each time “trying out” a different Solution-Option (old or new) with the goal of finding a Product whose Predicted Properties (or Observed Properties, if known) match your already-defined desired Goal-Properties;   or in critical-and-creative Guided Generation during a process of Science-Design, in Cycles of Science you do many Mental Experiments, each time “trying out” a different Model-Option (old or new) with the goal of finding a Model whose Predictions match the already-known Observations.   /   Why is this critical-and-creative process (with critical Evaluation stimulating-and-guiding creative Generation) called Retroduction?  It's because “trying out different Model-Options” is done AFTER Observations are known. (or after your Solution-Goal has been defined)   But even though the process-of-logic is "retro" it still is logically valid, although with Retroduction there is more danger (than with Prediction) of inventing an ad-hoc Model.


This process of Guided Generation (aka Retroduction) is similar for any objective, whether you're Generating Option-Ideas for an explanatory Theory (in Science-Design) or (in General Design) for a Product, Activity, Relationship, or Strategy, or (during either type of design) for an Experiment.

I.O.U. - Eventually, sometime during 2024, in this page-summary I want to condense ideas from the longer page-summary about the process of using retroductive logic in Guided Generation for Science-Design & General Design & Experimental Design, and (for the process in each of these design-contexts) comparing the Similarities & Differences;  also, ideas about Divergent Generation, New Objectives, and (especially interesting) How Generation is Stimulated & Guided by Evaluation.


Now we'll shift our attention from critical-and-creative Guided Idea-Generation (above)* to creative Free Idea-Generation (below).  Ideally, we want to combine both strategies, to stimulate creative Idea-Generation that is Guided-and-Free.     {* In one useful interaction between critical thinking and creative thinking, critical evaluation can help you avoid an unwise action that could occur "without sufficiently wise evaluation."}



Creative FREE GENERATION  (of Ideas for Options)

Productive Thinking occurs "when you effectively combine Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking with relevant Ideas-Knowledge."  How can you "effectively combine" these aspects of productive thinking?

Critical Thinking and accurate Ideas-Knowledge should always be mutually supportive, with productive interactions, because:   critical evaluation helps you construct accurate ideas;   and the more you truly know (when your ideas are accurate, are true because they correspond to reality) the better you can evaluate.

In contrast with the reliability of this mutual support, two things can happen when Creative Thinking is combined with Critical Thinking or with Ideas-Knowledge.  The interaction can be either...

    productive, as in:   creative Generation (of a new Option) with Guiding when critical Evaluation stimulates & guides creative Generation;   creative Generation (of a new Option) by Revision based on knowledge about an old Option,
    or unproductive in the two ways explained below, because Creative Thinking can be, although it should not be, hindered by:   1) its interactions with Critical Thinking, or   2) its interactions with Ideas-Knowledge if this causes restrictive assumptions about “the way things must be.”   Below you'll see:  "1. A Problem [the unproductive "interactions with Critical Thinking"] and Two Solutions [1A and 1B, Building a Productive Community and first Creative, then Critical]" for making the interactions more productive;  and strategies to reduce the unproductive "interactions with Ideas-Knowledge," to Reduce Restrictive Assumptions.



1.  A Problem and Two Solutions

One reason that Creative Thinking can be "hindered by its interactions with Critical Thinking" is because...

when we ask “what is critical thinking?”, there is...

ambiguity, with two meanings:
    • In the context of productive problem-solving process, critical thinking is "disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence."  This definition is from dictionary.com, which also has these definitions:  critical analysis is "involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc," and
    • critical is "inclined to find fault or to judge with severity."  So in some situations, are some people "inclined to... judge with severity" when they do critical thinking?
    These different meanings (two beneficial, the other usually detrimental) can cause confusion when we evaluate the benefits of critical thinking.   The first kind of action ("disciplined thinking... informed by evidence... involving skillful judgment") is productive, so it's the critical thinking we want to use in problem solving and education;  this high-quality thinking can be a source of constructive critical feedback when, after wise filtering, it's shared with others.   The second action ("to find fault... to judge with severity") tends to be unproductive for psychological reasons, especially when it's shared with others and they perceive it to be harshly critical;  but a person's creativity also can be hindered when they judge their own thinking with severity.
    and the feedback (from critical thinking) usually is...
a mixture of positive-and-negative:  Is critical thinking always negative?  No.  In fact, an accurate evaluation (constructed with critical thinking) would be totally positive for an Option that is The Perfect Problem-Solution.  Usually, however, the result of productive critical evaluation — and the critical evaluative feedback that is shared with colleagues — is a mixture with some positives (because some properties of an Option closely match the desired properties that are your goals) and some negatives (for other properties).  Due to this mixture of positive-and-negative, it's possible (especially during the interpersonal interactions of a collaborative process) for critical thinking to hinder creative thinking, because...
    the negative feedback may have...
personal significance:  The thing being evaluated can be an Option (for a problem-solution) or Performance (of a person or group).  The negative aspects of evaluation are sometimes personally significant for the person(s) who proposed an Option or strongly supports it,* and are usually personally significant for the person(s) whose Performance is being evaluated.     {Or, positive aspects of evaluation can be personally significant for a person who opposes an Option. }


A Problem:  We can define two kinds of critical thinking.  The productive kind ("informed by evidence... involving skillful judgment") is necessary for effective problem solving, and is usually "a mixture with some positives... and some negatives."  The other kind (a harsh "judging with severity") is usually unproductive — especially when the negative aspects of critical feedback are perceived as being harsh, and are personally significant — so "it's possible [but not necessary]... for critical thinking to hinder creative thinking."  But the hindering can be reduced, as described below, with...

Two Options for a Solution, by...  1A) Developing a Productive Community (by encouraging creativity and criticality, while reducing the effects of less-productive attitudes), and   1B) Using Strategies to Stimulate Creative Thinking (by temporarily liberating it from the unproductive effects of critical thinking).

The unproductive interactions between creativity and criticality occur in ways that are interpersonal (between people) and intrapersonal (within a person).   These have different emphases in the two problem-solving strategies:  In 1A a major goal is to reduce the effects of interpersonal harshness-by-others.  In 1B we try to reduce all creativity-hindering effects, due to harshness-by-self (intrapersonal) and perceived harshness-by-others (interpersonal), whether these are conscious or subconscious.


I.O.U. – Here are some “rough scraps of ideas” that might be “cleaned up” (to make them more logical and easier to understand) later, maybe in April-May 2023?  my questions are whether generative thinking is purely-creative, and evaluative thinking is purely-critical?  ...  It can be useful (even though oversimplified) to consider Generation-of-Ideas to be a result of creative thinking in mostly-creative (but not always purely-creative) Generative Thinking,  and Evaluation-of-Ideas to be a result of critical thinking in mostly-critical (but not always purely-critical) Evaluative Thinking.  We can blur the lines between “critical” and “creative” by recognizing their overlaps, as in the comparison-based critical thinking that is an essential aspect of pragmatically productive creative thinking during Guided Generation.   /   and in another version of the same ideas...  We can consider Generation-of-Ideas and Evaluation-of-Ideas to be results of creative thinking and critical thinking, respectively, as in home-page paragraphs that describe the productive creative-and-critical interactions between mostly-creative Generative Thinking and mostly-critical Evaluative Thinking as in red plus blue makes purple



1A.  Developing a Productive Community

1A.  (creative-and-critical with knowledge)


WHAT is it?

HOW can you get it?


WHAT ?   A collaborative community promotes productive thinking when its people increase the productive interactions of creative thinking and critical thinking with each other, and with ideas-knowledge, and decrease the unproductive interactions.

A productive team should have functional diversity by including people who...

    together have useful diversity so the team, as a whole, has a wide range of useful skills and useful ideas, because the team includes members with a wide variety of abilities, experiences, and perspectives;
    together have useful functioning so they have productive teamwork, with effective collaboration because the team is using its diversity productively by working cooperately to pursue common goals.

When a team with functional diversity is working together as a whole team,* it can do each part of the problem-solving process well.  Together, the members of a team can effectively solve problems by learning about problem-situations (with empathy) so they can wisely define a problem-objective and solution-goals and then solve the problem by creatively Generating Solution-Options and critically Evaluating Solution-Options.

* I say "as a whole team" because it isn't necessary for each person to have every skill, and do every part of the process well, if working together the team can do everything well.  In fact, some “division of labor” can be useful.  For example, a community might encourage everyone to Creatively Generate Ideas, but give some team members more responsibility for Critically Evaluating Ideas, and all responsibility for Making Important Decisions, as in using advisory feedback for lab education.


HOW ?   Basically, just encourage everyone to be creative-and-critical, both individually and as a community.  As part of their general strategy for doing this, a community/team can try to get more experiences, and learn more from their experiences:

    Get More Experiences with Productive Sharing:  A team can "get more experiences" with functional diversity by having more diversity (by including people with a wider variety of abilities, experiences, perspectives) and more functionality (with attitudes that encourage a sharing of ideas, in their creative Generation of Options to solve a problem, and their critical Evaluation of Options).
    Learn More from Experiences with Productive Responding:  After one person shares an idea — whether it's the result of creative Generation (and proposing an Option to consider) or critical Evaluation (that becomes Evaluative Feedback when it's communicated) — how do other people respond?   When responses are productive, the members of a team, and the team as a whole, can "learn more from their experiences" in two ways, with effects that are direct (to improve a team's performing now, in the present) and also indirect (to improve a team's performing later, in the future) if their attitudes-and-actions now will encourage better sharing & responding later.     {more}

Improve Sharing & Responding to Improve Creative-and-Critical Productive Thinking:  A team should promote attitudes-and-actions that improve the quality of its sharing and responding, to improve the mutual interactions between creative-and-critical productive thinking for its individuals and for the community as a whole.  An important part of the collaborative process is...

Evaluative Feedback – Providing and Receiving:  The usefulness of a team's Evaluative Discussion depends on how well its members Provide Feedback and Receive Feedback.  Usually every member of a team will be sometimes a provider and sometimes a receiver, so everyone should try to improve their skills in doing both:

    Each team member will be a Provider-of-Feedback who should use wise filtering in a two-step process.  First you try to develop accurate understandings when evaluating an Option (or Performance).  Then you wisely filter your understandings by not saying everything you are thinking, but — after asking “what, why, who, how, when?” — saying (in ways that will be helpful) only what will be helpful for designing a better Option and/or developing better teamwork.
    Each team member will be a Receiver-of-Feedback who should want to learn from others, with productive responses that begin by perceiving all aspects of feedback (both negative & positive) as intended to be helpful.*  Then, with minimal distraction by emotions, you can focus on logically evaluating the feedback by asking “is it accurate?” and deciding “yes” or “partially” or “no”, and asking “what can I learn from the feedback?”, and perhaps (after wise filtering) deciding to share your own counter-feedback.   /   * perceptions & terms:  To make the "perceiving" of critical feedback more productive, maybe we should call it evaluative feedback or formative feedback.

Ideally, each member of a community — in their providing & responding and in other parts of their problem-solving process — will develop, for themself and their community, effective thinking strategies for better learning-and-performing so they can get more experiences and learn more from their experiences.  When we learn from the experience of others, through their critical feedback and in other ways, we're taking advantage of opportunities to "view situations from new perspectives" so we can reduce restrictive assumptions that limit our creativity.


MORE - These basic ideas (summarized above) are examined more thoroughly in Strategies for building a Productive Problem-Solving Community which includes strategies for:

Getting More ExperiencesFunctional Diversity (with an example for Lab Education) - Physical & Mental, Old & New - First-Hand & Second-Hand - Attitudes about Providing & Receiving

Learning More from Experiences (including Second-Hand Experiences) with Responses that are Productive.

Improving Less-Productive Culture when the "Ideally..." isn't happening — Causes (Mixed Motives and Negative Feedback) and Effects & Fixes.



1B.  Creative and then Critical  (using Brainstorm-and-Evaluate)

first do Creative Thinking, then Critical Thinking:  The main goal of Brainstorm-and-Evaluate is to stimulate freely creative thinking that is unhindered by critical thinking.  How?  During a creative brainstorming phase, critical feedback (from self & others) is temporarily minimized, to encourage a confidently free creativity in generating lots of ideas, aiming for innovation.  Later, these ideas are evaluated in a critical evaluating phase.   Here is:

    a description  –  "The fundamental principle of ideation [to generate ideas] is to be cognizant of when you and your team are generating ideas and when you are evaluating ideas – typically keeping these two tasks separate, and only mixing the two intentionally." (from d.school of Stanford)
    and analogy  –  While you're driving a car, you don't accelerate with the brakes on, but you still have brakes because you'll want to use them later.  In a similar way, during a brainstorming phase you don't ideate "with the brakes on" but you still have the ability to evaluate, and you will do this later.  But for awhile you can relax and feel free to be wildly creative in your brainstorming phase, because you have the confident assurance of knowing that unwise action can be avoided because your creative ideas-for-Options won't be “put into action” before the Options are evaluated in an evaluating phase.

While you are defining & solving a problem {as shown in Diagram 1` and, with more detail about evaluations, in Diagrams 2a & 3b} you want Productive Thinking that requires combining Creative Thinking {near top of Diagram 2a, when you "Generate Options"} with Critical Thinking {below this, when you "Choose an Option" so you can "Evaluate this Option"} and with Ideas-Knowledge {at top, the result of "Learn more so you understand better" plus your previous knowledge}.   It's impossible (and it would be unproductive) to totally separate creative thinking from critical thinking.  But temporarily — during an early “brainstorming” phase of your overall process when your main focus is mental ideation — you can regulate your cognition-and-metacognition with an intentional thinking strategy of adjusting the interactions between your creative thinking and critical thinking.  In this phase, you want the interactions to be optimized for creative ideation, to help you creatively generate ideas.

How?  One strategy for "adjusting the interactions" is to use some kinds of evaluation, but not others.  For example, you might want to consciously use evaluative feedback about old Options to stimulate-and-guide your creative generation of new Options, but try to avoid using harsh judgmentalism (of the new Options you're currently generating) that could psychologically hinder your creative generation of new Options.  Or you might want to minimize your awareness of old Options, to reduce restrictive assumptions and allow a free flow of creative Generation, minimally restricted by this Ideas-Knowledge.  Similarly, you can “go all the way” with Critical Thinking and simply try to avoid all critical filtering of new ideas.

Who?  Other strategies are useful when you're working collaboratively in a group, when you want to build a creative community that will help your team (as individuals and as a group) feel freely creative during a brainstorming phase. 


Why?  During each phase of Brainstorm-and-Evaluate — whether you want to focus on improving your creative thinking to Generate Ideas, or your critical thinking to Evaluate Ideas — you are metacognitively deciding how to coordinate your process of design (as an individual or as a group) so your process will be more productive, so you will design a better solution for your problem.  But...


...does it work?  is Brainstorm-and-Evaluate a useful thinking strategy?   There seems to be no “correct answer” by consensus, because some say YES (if...) and others NO.  Three reasons for disagreement are because:

    techniques vary (there are a variety of ways to “do brainstorming” in a group or individually, and some techniques work better than others),
    application-strategies vary (and even when different group leaders try to use the same technique & strategy, some leaders are more skillful),
    contexts & goals vary (with effectiveness differing from one context to another, and for different goals)   {Also, re: methods used in research about creative brainstorming, you should ask “how well do the goals-for-productivity of a researcher (defined as “success” in their research study) match the results we want, as defined by our own goals?”}
In my opinion, when brainstorming is done well — with a good combination of technique & application-strategy, leader(s), context, and goals — it's one of the strategies to improve productive thinking that can be useful for promoting a creatively free Generation of Ideas.


A mindset-skill that is essential for developing a Creative Community and being Creative and then Critical (above) is (below) a more general metacognitive Thinking Strategy of allowing creativity by...


2.  Reducing Restrictive Assumptions


Using Old and New

Earlier, I explain why "Critical Thinking and accurate Ideas-Knowledge should always be mutually supportive with productive interactions" but when Creative Thinking is influenced by Ideas-Knowledge the effect on creativity "can be either productive (as... when Knowledge about an old Option allows creative Generation-by-Revision) or unproductive" because...

Old and New:  Ideas-for-Options can be generated by selection (of old ideas) with memory, and by invention (of new ideas) with creativity.  Productive Thinking can arise from using old and/or new ideas, from tradition and/or innovation.  When you're trying to solve a problem, sometimes the best solution is to use an old idea, or a combination of old-and-new by revising an old idea to invent a new idea.     { perseverance and flexibility – How I Didn't Learn to Ski (and then did learn) }

Innovation:  When you're generating options, it's extremely difficult to invent a new option that is totally different and also is useful.  But sometimes you invent an “innovative” new option that is very different than the old options.  In a spectrum of innovation — ranging from no change through minor revision and major revision to very innovative — some new options are “more new” than others.


Often the interactions between old and new are neutral, or are productive.  But an old idea can be unproductive IF a knowledge of “the way things have been” becomes an assumed certainty about “the way things must be” that restricts your freedom of thinking.  If this happens a knowledge of some old ideas has hindered a free selection of other old ideas or a free invention of new ideas.

Of course, to think productively you want the best of both, by combining old and new.  You want a solid foundation of knowledge about what has been and now is (the old), plus flexible thinking that lets you freely imagine what could be (the new) so you can consider the full range of old options and expand this range by creatively inventing new options.  How?  Here are a few (of many possible) cognitive-and-metacognitive Thinking Strategies to get a Generation of Ideas that is more flexible and more free:


Strategies to Stimulate Creativity

When you're trying to innovate, but are stuck in a rigid mental rut, you can:

• ask “am I making any unwarranted assumptions that are limiting the flexibility of my thinking?”

• intentionally try to “think outside the box” and view situations from new perspectives, to imagine new possibilities.     {maybe you can ask a colleague “what is your perspective?”}

• try Brainstorm-then-Evaluate so you'll be less worried about “making a mistake.”

• begin with an innovative new idea that initially may seem like a "mistake" and try to develop it into something useful.  You may find it useful to think about innovation by imagining a landscape with multiple hills so there are local maximums (on the tops of small hills) and a global maximum (on the largest hill).  If your thinking is stuck in a rut of the familiar "small hills" you won't consider the possibility that larger hills might exist, with higher maxima.   /   How can this help you think more creatively?  When you're evaluating the quality of a New Option, you can estimate its current quality (for what it is now) and also a potential quality (for what it could be later, for its potential after it has been improved by revisions during a developmental process of optimization that “moves it toward the top of its hill”).  {A personal example is the re-optimizing of my tennis backhand after it was revised.}   Instead of deciding, consciously or unconsciously,* that an innovative New Option should be rejected — because in its early under-developed state it has a lower current quality than an already-developed Old Option — you can wonder whether its potential quality might increase during a process of optimization when it's becoming more developed-and-improved.     {if you subconsciously reject “your own imagining of the New Option” it may never reach the stage of conscious evaluation}

• experiment with a wide variety of thinking strategies — including Guided Generation and clever uses of revision-by-analysis and much more — for stimulating creativity, or improving other aspects of productive thinking.  For example, d.school at Stanford has packed their Bootcamp Bootleg (and their classroom experiences) with thought-stimulating activities, described in terms of methods & modes that support productive mindsets to provide beneficial structure + thinking strategies during instruction.  One list of strategies is from Wikipedia, describing brainstorming with variations and see-also topics that include a variety of creativity techniques.  As part of your experimenting, you might want to...

• use an Inner Game approach (as in performance = potential - interference) to reduce interferences (mental, emotional, physical) that are hindering a free flow of productive thinking and productive action.

get a different perspective by asking a colleague, “What do you think?”   How can this question be useful?  Although the many factors contributing to creativity form a complex blend, and there is no “secret formula” for promoting creativity with individuals or in groups, experts in promoting creativity do agree that a person's creative thinking can be stimulated by interacting with other people because often (but not always) this is an excellent way to "view situations from new perspectives," from their perspectives.   {Collaboration & Communication and Minimizing Unproductive Group-Think}

• just take a break.  If you work on a problem, then stop for awhile (to rest, walk, play, sleep, or work in other ways), when you return to the problem you may solve it.  How?  Maybe the break has weakened a habit of thinking, and this lets you move to another hill.  Or the break may simply help reduce mental fatigue, to restore your fresh thinking.   Or during the break you learned, so you now have additional information or insights.  Or subconscious mental processing (during your work, play, rest, or sleep) has supplemented your conscious thinking in useful ways.



More ideas about stimulating creativity — by combining Free Generation with Guided Generation and/or Revision-by-Analysis — are now in the longer summary and (I.O.U.) eventually will be condensed here.




The next three page-summaries are about defining Goals/Standards for Education, and designing Curriculum-and-Instruction (in a coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum) to achieve these goals:


   New K-12 Science Education Standards    (into right frame`)

I'm a strong supporter of learning standards, at least when they're the foundation of curriculum & instruction that is done wisely and well.  I support the standards developed in the U.S. with Common Core (for Language & Math) and NGSS (for Science & Engineering) plus the many variations that have been developed by states, and the customized applications by school districts & classroom teachers.  Partly due to timing, with NGSS being released early in my process of enthusiastically making this website — plus the wide scope of Design Processs (my Model for Problem-Solving Process) that is used for both Science-Design & Engineering-Design, covering the main scope of NGSS — I've described connections between NGSS and Design Process in detail, to show the major compatibilities & minor differences, and the distinctive benefits of using Design Process within the structure-context of NGSS.

For K-12 schools in the United States, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been developed and are being converted into state-level standards, beginning in 2011 with a 3-stage process: overview + detailsNGSS combines ideas (Disciplinary Core Ideas, with Crosscutting Concepts) and skills (Science & Engineering Practices) into a coherent system of worthy educational goals for Science, to supplement similar goals for Math & Language in the Common Core Standards.    /    In this website, so far (in early 2023) I haven't yet said much about Common Core, but eventually I will, maybe in Summer 2023.  We use design thinking for almost everything in life so the value of teaching Design Process extends far beyond STEM-with-NGSS, to Common Core and beyond.

The standards in NGSS define WHAT students should learn.  Then educators will design strategies for the WHAT-and-HOW of teaching, for Curriculum & Instruction.  Design Process (a model for generalized problem solving that includes Science Process) can be a useful part of this WHAT-and-HOW, especially to help students improve their skills for Design Practices that include Engineering Practices (by using Design Process to solve problems with Design-Inquiry) and Science Practices (by using Science Process to answer questions with Science-Inquiry).   {two kinds of inquiry}


The longer page-summary has more about NGSS and Design Process and "eclectic instruction that includes Design Process [which is compatible yet special]" and "why I was excited about the very close match with NGSS Practices [in most ways but not all]" and the "broad definition of engineering" in NGSS (but I go further in claiming we use similar problem-solving Design Thinking in General Design (that includes “engineering” & much more) and Science-Design for "almost everything we do in life" and for all aspects of STEM-STEAM-STREAM Education in a Wide Spiral Curriculum) so educators can build educational bridges (by using the simplicity of Design Process) from life into school and back into life (with 21st century life-skills) to increase motivations for learning and transfers of learning.

In addition to this wide scope for Design Process (and NGSS), the longer page-summary also explains why — in a section about "any age" that's copied below (in dark-green font)because I think it's so important — "for a coordinated teaching of IDEAS, distinguishing between grade levels is useful ... but a different teaching strategy is better for SKILLS."  And why, if we want to improve education for thinking skills, our "concerns about the effects of exams" seem justifiable.  And why writing a Glossary of Terms for NGSS would be useful, to help clarify meanings-of-terms and intentions-for-terms.


at any age?  –  Yes.

Grade-Level Standards for Science & Engineering Practices

update:  After examining NGSS more thoroughly, and hearing a webinar by NSTA, I think NGSS & NSTA agree with my "any age" claims.  In the webinar, Heidi Schweingruber began by emphasizing the sophisticated reasoning abilities of young children, who are competent to engage in all of the Science/Engineering Practices. {This is consistent with Bruner's claim that with effective teaching, students can learn ideas [and also skills?] with intellectual integrity at any age.}   Later presenters agreed with Heidi.

NGSS has four grade-levels, for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  But I think all students can learn all basic skills of Design Process – which includes most of the Scientific & Engineering Practices – from the beginning of their classroom experiences with science-inquiry and design-inquiry.  In an effective spiral curriculum for ideas-and-skills education students will continually increase their level of mastery (for thinking skills & thinking process) but at each grade-level they will use & improve the same basic skills for their process of creative-and-critical thinking.



   Curriculum & Instruction  (design and adoption)   (into right frame`)


A commonly used strategy for Goal-Directed Designing of Curriculum & Instruction is...

DEFINE GOALS for desired outcomes, for ideas-and-skills we want students to learn,

DESIGN INSTRUCTION with learning activities (and associated teaching activities) that will provide opportunities for experience with these ideas & skills, and will help students learn more from their experiences.


We'll look at these two aspects of educational design — DEFINE GOALS and DESIGN INSTRUCTION.


• 1 — DEFINE GOALS for Ideas-AND-Skills

We define goals for ideas (what students know) that are conceptual knowledge, and skills (what they can do) that are procedural knowledge.  Our goals for ideas-and-skills include ideas, and skills that are applied in skills-with-ideas (when creative-and-critical thinking skills interact with ideas in productive thinking while solving problems with design-inquiry using General Design, and answering questions with science-inquiry in Science-Design).  {what is inquiry?}    /    * should a term be changed?  "ideas (what students know)" is knowledge, so should I say skills-with-knowledge or skills-with-concepts, instead of skills-with-ideas?  But... in education, two common terms are conceptual knowledge and procedural knowledge, so would a change cause confusion?  Maybe.  So probably I won't change this term.    {iou – before June 2023, I'll decide whether to make the change, in this section and elsewhere.}

and More:  In an overall system of goals, we want to help students achieve a wide range of desirable outcomes that are COGNITIVE (for ideas-and-skills in many areas of school and life, using multiple intelligences, including social-and-emotional skills), AFFECTIVE (for motivation & attitudes), INTENTIONAL (by choosing worthy goals-for-life and making practical plans for achieving these goals) and PHYSICAL (for nutrition, health & fitness, physical skills), plus other worthy goals (for empathy, compassion, ethics, character,...).  Therefore we must ask, “How much of our educational resources (time, people, money,...) should be invested in each goal?”  The discussion below recognizes this wider context but will focus on cognitive goals for ideas-and-skills.   {more about Educational Goals for Many Types of Knowledge}   {when a student improves their reading skill they have “made themselves better” due to their better ability to gain more knowledge with more-accurate understanding, so is reading skill a kind of problem-solving skill?}

There also is a time-dimension when we think about goals to improve students' current performing/enjoying and future performing/enjoying, for overall satisfactions now and later.  We want to optimize the total value of their performing and/or enjoying and/or learning.


Ideas plus Skills:  The importance of teaching ideas-and-skills (especially skills-with-ideas) is emphasized by prominent educators, including NGSS, Marzano, CRESST.

Ideas versus Skills?  We want to teach both, but unfortunately a competitive tension often exists.*  If we are not able to maximize a mastery of both, we should aim for an optimal combination of ideas and skills.  But what is optimal?  Many educators, including me, think the balance should shift toward more emphasis on skills and skills-with-ideas, aiming for an improvement in skills-knowledge that outweighs (in our value system) any decrease in ideas-knowledge.  This is possible because "ideas versus skills" is not a zero-sum situation where increasing one must decrease the other by an equal amount, and — especially for lifelong learning when we educate for life to help students cope with a wide range of challenges in their futures — the long-term total benefits can increase when we increase the value we place on skills, and choose better goals for ideas-plus-skills.    {there are 5 Rational Reasons for Teachers to Not Teach Thinking Skills}


• 2 — DESIGN INSTRUCTION using Goal-Directed Activities

We design activities (main & mini) that provide opportunities for experience with educational goals, and help students learn more from their experiences.

Goal-Directed Activities:  We can design goal-directed Aesop's Activities for specific goals, while also operating in the broader context of designing a Wide-Spiral Curriculum (that is an Ideas-and-Skills Curriculum) to achieve general goals for ideas-and-skills & more.

Eclectic Blending of Activities:  If different kinds of instructional activities will be useful for teaching various aspects of ideas-and-skills (≡ ideas + skills + skills with ideas), then we should try to combine different kinds of instruction into an eclectic blend that is optimally effective.

Familiar Activities:  Design Process is compatible with other ways to teach problem-solving skills, so we can use familiar activities (for design-inquiry & science-inquiry) to teach Design Process, so nothing new is required for these Thinking/Learning Activities and associated Teaching Activities.


Evaluation Activities:  We ask “what evidence would show that students have achieved each educational goal?” and “what kinds of assessments should we use during or after an activity or a set of activities?”  Evaluations of ideas-and-skills can be very valuable (when the what-and-how is done well, and the results are used wisely) for increasing student motivations and providing feedback with...

Feedback Activities:  One common way to guide is providing formative feedback (to help students improve their performing and/or learning) or summative feedback (to assign “grades” for students).   /   Distinguishing between feedback that is formative and summative is useful when developing Strategies for Teaching but there is overlapping and interaction.  For example, feedback from Exam 1 (a summative assessment for instruction preceding this exam) can become formative feedback (to help students learn more from their experiences when they were preparing for Exam 1) for instruction preceding Exam 2, and for the semester's Final Exam.

Effects of Evaluations:  Unfortunately, high-stakes standardized exams (used to measure learning-and-performance for students, and define “quality” for teachers & schools) often produce undesirable distortions of curriculum-and-instruction due to...

The Difficulty of Designing Exams to Evaluate Skills:  We want to generate accurate information about student achievements with both ideas and skills.  But measuring ideas-knowledge is easy compared with the difficulty & expense of measuring skills-knowledge.  This difficulty & expense is a very important factor, because at all levels (for a teacher, school, district, state, or country) almost always the “quality of education” is evaluated by easy-to-give standardized exams that emphasize ideas, not skills.  Therefore, when educators at all levels (from individual classrooms to a whole nation) develop strategies & policies for education, they rarely want to increase their emphasis on teaching skills-knowledge, because almost always there are...


Rational Reasons to Not Teach Thinking Skills

I.O.U. – Later, I'll write a condensed summary of a concluding section about factors (especially exams) that affect decisions about instruction, re: what to do, when, and how.



   An Ideas-and-Skills Curriculum    (into right frame`)

Our educational objectives for students should include goals that are cognitive (for ideas-and-skills), affective, physical, and more.

This section uses a model for problem solving & learning` from CRESST — combining Motivation, Metacognition, Conceptual Knowledge (ideas), Procedural Knowledge (skills), Collaboration, and Communication — to show how Design Process can promote education with "mutually supportive... productive interactions" between ideas and skills, with many benefits for students.

This page-summary “brings together” a wide range of ideas about education, with links to let you learn more about each idea.   [to be continued, but not until later, so instead here is an...]

I.O.U. — Until this condensed page-summary is more fully developed, you can read "An Ideas-and-Skills Curriculum" in its semi-condensed version and original full-length page.



   A Coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum    (into right frame`)

Effective coordination of curriculum & instruction is a main objective of the new standards for ideas-and-skills in language and math (Common Core) and science (Next Generation).  To help students achieve these educational goals, we can design an eclectic blend of coordinated instruction that includes design thinking and Design Process.



The wide scope of design (it includes almost everything students do) lets teachers use design activities in all subject areas — in sciences, engineering, business, humanities, and arts, in STEAM and beyond, in an ideas-and-skills curriculum with wide scope — so in every area students can have analogous experiences with design thinking.  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).

The longer summary describes how coordination of instruction can occur in spirals that are short-term narrow and short-term wide and long-term wide.



Improving Transfer:  With a coordinated wide curriculum we can help students develop coherently organized systems of ideas-and-skills extending across many subject areas.  We can use two principles for increasing transfer by teaching skills in multiple contexts (of a wide curriculum) in a form that is easily generalized (with Design Process) to show students how the problem-solving strategies they use in different contexts are related to Design Process (because it's used in each context) and thus are related to each other.



A system of learning experiences can be coordinated by teachers individually and cooperatively, with different approaches in early K-12 and late K-12, and in college. {details}   Although widespread cooperative coordination is necessary for the best educational results, one teacher can design a high-quality spiral that will be very useful for their own students.



What:  Ideally, we want to design a synergystic system of instruction with mutually supportive interactions between experiences, to produce a more effective environment for learning.   {educational ecology}

How:  One useful tool (similar to strategies used by other educators) is an Integrative Analysis of Instruction to help us understand the structure of instruction more accurately and thoroughly, so we can improve the structure to make it more effective in achieving our educational goals.


MORE – There is a longer summary of

A Coordinated Wide-Spiral Curriculum

plus the original full-length page.



   Strategies for Teaching Inquiry-Process    (into right frame`)

I.O.U. - Later, maybe during April-May 2023, this section will be developed more fully by condensing (and linking to) sections from the semi-condensed page about Strategies for Teaching Inquiry-Process and the full-length page about Using Other Models-for-Process in Education.


Strategies for Teaching Inquiry-Process

Compared with other models for a process of inquiry, my model of Design Process is similar in most ways, but is distinctive in some ways, so it's old-and-new and it offers many potential benefits for helping students improve their understanding of inquiry-process, and their skill in doing design-inquiry and/or science-inquiry.

Similarities occur in basic goals and being not-rigid & not-uniform and learning from experience.  Due to these similarities, teachers can have design-inquiry and/or science-inquiry. A Wide Variety of Options for generating Inquiry Activities (by finding old and developing new)

But some differences occur in strategies for teaching inquiry-process.  For example, there is a wide range of views about whether it's best to use a model, semi-model, or no model and what process-model(s) to use, as discussed below.


Using Other Models for Problem-Solving Process

I.O.U. - Later, there will be an introductory overview.

Models for Thinking Strategies

Learning from Experience is the main strategy in Self-Regulated Learning (SRL), a field that studies the uses of cognition-and-metacognition for Thinking Strategies to improve performing and/or learning.  In SRL a common model for Thinking Strategies is an SRL Cycle with 3 parts, either "PLAN, MONITOR, Evaluate" or "PLAN, MONITOR, Adapt" or both.  This cycle of SRL is very similar to a cycle of Design Process, when you PLAN-and-MONITOR and ask, after you Evaluate, “should I Adapt?”

There are two reasons for similarity.  First, I independently developed a similar model.  Then, after discovering their earlier model I borrowed their terms (Plan, Monitor) to make Design Process more consistent with the established field of SRL.     { Cycles of PLAN (to Mentally Ideate) and MONITOR (to Physically Test), in SRL & Design Process, are also similar to other models-for-process, as shown in comparisons of 5 models & 2 models & 19 models. }

Beneficial Transfers of Thinking Skills:  Despite the similarity in models, when Thinking Strategies are based on Design Process there is added value because we use a process of problem solving for almost everything in life.  Therefore, when students learn principles of problem solving — while they are using Design Process to develop thinking strategies or to solve other kinds of problems — their experiences will help them improve their generalized skills with problem solving, which can transfer to other uses of problem- solving skills in many areas of life.     {design thinking in a wide-spiral curriculum}

MORE about Models (SRL, Design Process,...) for Thinking Strategies


[ to be continued soon, maybe during April-May 2023 ]



   Optimizing the Benefits of Eclectic Instruction    (put into right frame`)

Here are the main ideas, quoted from the introduction of the full-length page:


Four Logical Reasons to Use Eclectic Instruction

Logically, we should expect an eclectic blending of instructional approaches to be most educationally effective because:

    1a) we want students to learn a wide variety of ideas (Conceptual Knowledge) and skills (Procedural Knowledge);

    1b) different approaches are useful for teaching various aspects of these ideas-and-skills;

    1c) usually there are diminishing returns for each type of instructional approach, as described in an 80-20 Principle*;

    1d) students' characteristics vary in many ways (in their learning preferences, abilities to experience success with various types of instruction,..) and we want to match the characteristics of more students with at least one of our teaching styles.     [ When students experience personal success in school, they will be more motivated to invest effort in their schoolwork, if they believe this will help them achieve their goals for life.  With eclectic instruction that includes design activities and other kinds of activities, more students will have more opportunities to feel the intellectual-and-emotional satisfactions that come from success by succeeding in either design activities or traditional instruction, or both. ]


These four factors contribute to a logical conclusion:

    2) therefore we should try to design eclectic instruction by creatively combining the best features of different approaches into a synergistic blend that produces an optimal overall result – with greater good for a greater number* – in helping students achieve worthy educational goals.     { of course we ideally want “the greatest good for the greatest number” but due to conflicting factors it's more realistic to set a goal of “greater good for a greater number” )


When designing eclectic instruction, we should use the principle (1b) that "different approaches are useful for teaching various aspects of these ideas-and-skills."  For example, maybe we should use mainly (but not totally) explanation-based activities (plus supporting activities) for ideas, and mainly but not totally – because eventually explanations will be usefuldiscovery-learning activities (plus supporting activities) for skills.   {e.g. using inquiry-process to teach inquiry-principles}


Consensus with Variations:  Although sometimes the rhetoric of enthusiasts makes it seem they are claiming “if some is good, more would be better, and all would be best” (where "all" is the approach they advocate), most educators agree that we should avoid the uncreative restrictions of rigid "all would be best" thinking (based on either-or assumptions) because eclectic instruction usually works best, especially in the long run.  But we can disagree about details of What-and-How, about WHAT the best "overall result" is (when we're defining goals)* and HOW to combine different approaches to get "an optimal overall result."

* When we're thinking about instruction, some important ideas to consider — regarding our goals for ideas & skills and the potential tensions that occur when we are not able to maximize a mastery of both ideas and skills, plus the diminishing returns (e.g. 80-20) for different kinds of instruction — are in Design of Curriculum & Instruction.


* Basically, an 80-20 Principle states that in many situations (but not all), roughly 80% of a thing's total possible value comes from the first 20% of this thing.*  Applied to instruction, if "the first 20%" is the first 20% of total instruction time invested in a particular kind of instruction, probably we'll see diminishing returns if we use more than 20% for this approach – because we'll be using it INSTEAD OF other approaches – so an 80-20 Principle supports the wisdom of using balanced eclectic combinations.

* 80-20 is a very rough general principle, so – instead of 80% and 20% – maybe 50% (or 90% or...?) comes from the first 10% (or 30% or...?), and so on.


Following this introduction, the page describes Three Ways to Learn (from Explanations, by Discovery, during Activities), and why Constructivist Learning includes Learning from Explanations, and My Views about Eclectic Instruction.    I.O.U. — Later, these three descriptions will be summarized here.  For now, I think the beginning of Learning by Discovery (in the full page) is interesting and educationally useful:

    This [Learning by Discovery] is an excellent way to learn Procedural Knowledge and organized principles of Procedural Knowledge.  How?  In An Overview of Design Process each stage (in a 5-stage progression of verbal-and-visual exploration) begins with "Learning and Teaching" to describe how "students can discover essential principles... during guided Reflection on their Experience" that occurs before, during, or after an Inquiry Activity.  In this context, Discovery Learning is especially effective because "students already know these principles from their prior experience of using design-thinking in everyday life and in school, plus their most recent design experiences, so in ‘discovery’ they are just making their own prior knowledge more explicit-and-organized within the logical framework of Design Process."     {and the website's home-page has a summary of Using a Process-of-Inquiry to Learn Principles-of-Inquiry]


Learning PyramidAnd here is an update in 2019, about a recent addition to my website:  An unfortunately common claim – it's an example of fanatical “if some is good, all would be best” thinking that's criticized above – is a Learning Pyramid (aka Cone of Learning) claiming that “we remember only 5% of what we HEAR in a lecture, and 10% if we READ it, but this increases to 50% if we DISCUSS it, and 90% if we TEACH it.”   Educators who have carefully examined this kind of claim — which implies that explanation-based instruction (e.g. when a student HEARS or READS) is always inefficient, in any context for any purpose — agree that it's not based on research, and is not correct, as explained here.




I.O.U. — This website will continue being developed during 2023, mainly by revising current summaries, but also by developing the "incomplete semi-summaries" (those labeled with * in the Table of Contents) before it ends with...



   Modes of Action   (into right frame`)

Actions and Process - WHAT:  This page supplements a family of models for Design Process by offering a different perspective.  It describes a semi-model — a system of functionally related modes of action (mental and/or physical) that becomes an overall model of Design Process when the modes are logically organized in educationally productive ways to show the coherent integration of productive actions (in these modes) to form a productive process.  You can see how the 10 modes of problem-solving actions are organized into a "thinking process" model (actually it's a family of related models you can explore in a 5-stage progression for learning) in diagrams that show relationships between models and modes`.    {model, semi-model, no model}

Actions and Process - HOW:  Or, when we ask “HOW are skills converted into process?”, Design Process shows how productive design-actions — which include creative-and-critical productive design-thinking and more — are coordinated (by making action-decisions about “what to do next”) to form a productive design-process.

Actions - Mental and/or Physical:  What is an "action"?  Productive Actions are "mental and/or physical" because an ACTION can be mainly mental, or mainly physical — which during a design project usually occurs when mental action leads to physical action — or (as with communication & collaboration and physical experimenting and many other actions) mental-and-physical.    /    note:  I think it's useful (especially for coordinating design-actions) to define action broadly, as mental and/or physical.  But defining action as only physical action also offers benefits, such as conforming to our common use of the word "action".  If a teacher wants action to be physical action, they can think about 10 Modes for Thinking-and-Action, for Thinking (mental) and Action (physical).


So you can get a quick overview, here are 10 modes of mental action and/or physical action and/or mental+physical action — organized into 4 categories with colorizing — that are used in a process of design:

1. DEFINITION  (at top of Diagram 1`):

1A. Define an Objective (what you want to design) for a Design Project,

1B. Define Goals (for the desired properties of a problem-Solution),

2. GENERATION  (to get information, both old & new) (in Diagrams 1, 2a, 3b, 4a/4b)

2A. Learn (find old information about Options & Predictions/Observations, Models),

2B. Invent Options (modify old Options, or innovate with new kinds of options),

2Experiments (to MAKE Information that we USE) play a central role in Design Process.

2C. Design Experiments (for Mental Experimenting, Physical Experimenting, or both),

2D. Predict (imagine in a Mental Experiment, to make Predictions for use in 3A & 3B),

2E. Observe (actualize in a Physical Experiment, to make Observations for use in 3A & 3B),

3. EVALUATION  (in Design Cycles and Science Cycle of Diagram 3b):

3A. Evaluate Solution-Options using Quality Checks

3A. (by COMPARING Goals with Predictions or Observations),

3B. Evaluate Model-Options using Reality Checks

3B. (by COMPARING Predictions with Observations),

4. COORDINATION  (often including Communication & Collaboration)

4A. Evaluate the Process and Make Action-Decisions (for what to do and when)

4A. as an individual or (in a group project) using Communication for Collaboration,


Design Process is not a rigid sequence of steps so these 10 modes are not 10 steps.  Instead, we see overlaps between thinking in different modes, with interactions that are useful for productive thinking that skillfully blends a knowledge of ideas with creativity and critical thinking.


For each of these 10 modes of action this page-summary (below) describes, for the mode, What and How:  WHAT is being done and HOW to do it better.



HOW — We can help students use-and-improve their Strategies for Productive Thinking so they will "do it better" in each mode of action.

WHAT — This diagram shows the two major parts of a Design Project:  you Define (at top) and Solve (bottom).

Define Problem + Solve Problem

After you "Learn" (or during a process of Learning) you Define a Problem when you "Define your Objective" and "Define your Goals".  All of these actions are interconnected, because you Define an Objective (to recognize a Problem and decide whether to try solving it with a design project, in Mode 1A) and Define your Goals (for a satisfactory Problem-Solution, in Mode 1B) based on a foundation-of-knowledge that (with "Learn" in Mode 2A) combines what you already knew plus what you are now learning.  The first three modes (1A/1B + 2A) are interconnected in many ways, to form an integrated unit.


1A — Define an Objective for a Design Project  (into right frame`)

Grounded in your knowledge of what is (due to Learning in 2A) and inspired by imagining what could be, you Define an Objective.  How?

1)  You recognize a problem, which is an opportunity to make things better because there is a “gap” between the Now-State (what is) and a Goal-State (what could be) that you can imagine, and you want to achieve.

2)  You decide to pursue a solution (by designing a better product, activity, relationship, strategy, or theory) because — after considering the potential benefits and the probability of success, compared with your alternatives (other ways you could use your limited resources of time & money, plus available knowledge & technology) — you make a strategy-decision that this Design Project will be a wise investment of your resources.


During Mode 1A the kinds of objectives differ in two kinds of design:

    in Science-Design you ask a question (about “what happens, how, and why?”) that you can answer by designing an explanatory model, to “make your knowledge better.”
    in General Design you define a problem that you can solve by designing a solution (for a better product, activity, relationship, or strategy) to "make things better" by satisfying human needs-and-desires.


Using Time Wisely:  In Mode 1A, you decide whether to "pursue a solution" for a particular Design Project because it "will be a wise investment of your resources," especially your valuable time.  You use design thinking for almost everything in life and (as Ben Franklin reminded us) TIME "is the stuff life is made of," so your choices about design projects are choices about how to invest your time and your life.  Therefore,...

Defining a Problem-Objective is important – because this determines what you can achieve if you Solve The Problem – so the process of Defining-an-Objective can, by itself, be considered an important Design Project, to be solved by using Design Cycles of Generation-and-Evaluation.  You can do this...

    for Everything in Life:  You can ask "What is the best use of my time right now?" (this is Lakein's Question) when you're deciding how to use time for projects that are short-term or long-term, small or large, in all areas of life, for projects that are personal or professional.
    for Projects and Process:  You make these time-use decisions about “what to do now (and later)” when (in Mode 1A) you choose an Objective for your problem-solving Projects, and when coordinating your problem-solving Process.

Is it urgent and/or important?  Decisions about whether to "pursue a solution" should be based on a project's urgency (ask “what will happen if I don't do it soon?”) and/or importance (ask “what will happen if I never do it?”). 


{the full-length page has more about 1A/1B and 2A}



For 1A & 1B, above & below, think about...

empathizing - by asking “What do THEY want?”   Throughout an extremely wide range of design projects (chosen in 1A) an essential part of skillful designing is defining stakeholders — everyone who will be involved in your project, or affected by it — and trying to understand their perspectives (how they think & feel, what they need and want) by thinking with empathy when you are learning more about problem-situations for projects and relationships.

defining - by asking “What do I want?”   Defining worthy objectives (in 1A) and goals (1B) — based on a foundation of worthy values & priorities plus empathetic other-understanding and metacognitive self-understanding — is important, because what you get will depend on what you aim for.  Defining a problem (in 1A/1B) determines what you can achieve if you solve the problem, if your Problem-Solution closely matches your Goals.  And asking “what do I want?” will help you decide how to use your time, and thus your life.     { real-time improvising:  Your objective(s) or goals can change while you're trying to solve a problem, because you have flexibility in timing. }

optimizing - by asking “What do WE want?”   In ways that are ethical and practical, lives tend to become better (with better life-outcomes for more people) when more people are motivated to want win-win solutions with “they win and you win” instead of “they lose so you win” as in a zero-sum game.     { If you really "think win-win" (Habit 4 in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) you will (Habit 5) "seek first to understand, then to be understood" by first seeking understanding-with-empathy because you want to know "what do they want?" }

empathy when defining & optimizing  –  You can decide to actualize compassion by making it a stimulus for action.  You can produce compassionate action when your choice of objective-and-goals is motivated by empathic concern (due to cognitive empathy and/or emotional empathy plus kindness) and is guided by accurate empathetic understanding.


Quality Control:   After a problem-Solution is chosen and it's actualized by converting it from an idea into reality, what Quality Controls — to observe and improve the Quality of Actualizing — will be useful?    {e.g., Quality Control for Strategy-Applying Actions}

Communicating:  During many design projects, skillful communication is useful internally (for coordinated teamwork if the process is collaborative so you want to develop a creative-and-critical productive community) and externally (for marketing,...) as part of the design project, and sometimes communication is the main objective.



1B — Define Goals for a Solution  (into right frame`)

Define your Goals for the desired properties of a problem-Solution by asking What do they want?” and “What do I want? with empathy and self-empathy.

the Goal-PROPERTIES you want can be:

  • specifications for desired characteristics of a product (for “what it is” composition, “what it does” functions, and “how well it does” performances), or activity (ask “what, when, where, how, who” in the context of “why”), or strategy (ask “what results are desirable?”), or explanatory theory (for Predictive Accuracy and other Goal-criteria).

  • practical constraints on the process of design, for budgeting (use of resources: people, time & wages, capital investments,...) and for timings (with sub-deadlines during the project, and a final deadline for completion) and maybe for other criteria.  For all objectives, but especially for a strategy, ask “will we have the capabilities required to successfully actualize this Solution-Option with high quality?”   /   For some objectives it's useful to view some practical & legal “constraints” on a permissible solution (for its production cost, selling price, safety,...) as characteristics.

{more about 1B}


Mixing the Modes

Although 1A is numerically first in a sequence of mode-numbers (1A, 1B,... 4A), Mode 1A is not the beginning of a design process.  Because the modes are not steps there are frequent overlaps between thinking in different modes, with mutually supportive interactions:


Define and Solve:  Stage 1 (of a progression for learning) explains how you define a Problem — by mixing Modes 2A/1A/1B when you "Learn by finding information" (with Mode 2A) in an effort to understand a problem-situation more accurately and thoroughly, to be "grounded in your knowledge of what is" so you can wisely "Define an Objective" and "Define your Goals" in Modes 1A and 1B — and solve the Problem by using all modes of thinking-and-action.     { When you're deciding “what to make better” [in 1A] you may need lots of learning [in 2A] to understand more accurately-and-thoroughly, so you can imagine [in 1B] “how it should be better” when you set goals for a solution. }

Early in a process of design when you define a Problem, in addition to defining (in 1A/1B) based on your learning in 2A, you also are using other modes because "making wise choices [about whether to invest your limited resources in a design project]... requires using all modes of thinking-and-action" including Evaluation in Modes 3A and/or 3B.

Later, a mixing of modes continues while you are trying to solve the Problem because you still can Learn, or re-define Goals (if you “recognize what you want when you see it” or you see that it's missing), or even decide to pursue new Objectives now or later.  This flexibility is symbolized by two arrows, , between the top & bottom parts of Diagram 1` to show that although the actions in Define a Problem usually occur early in a process of design (so the down-arrow is larger), any of these actions also can be done later.  And you can "mix" all of the problem-solving actions (mental & physical, to Generate and Evaluate) in the bottom part of Diagrams 1 or 2a or 3b.


Crossover Thinking-and-Actions:  Because engineering and science are closely related an engineer sometimes does science, and a scientist sometimes does engineering.

Science within Engineering:  An "engineer" does "science" when an experiment lets them evaluate the Quality of a Solution-Option (for General Design) and also understand (with Science-Design) the factors affecting its Quality;  this understanding helps you use Guided Generation to improve the Option's Quality (for General Design).  Designers want to increase their knowledge about nature in the context of their current Design Project, so this project-relevant scientific understanding can help them design better problem-Solutions.  For example, when engineers are developing a technology, they want to increase their knowledge about nature in the context of this technology.  And for marketing they want to increase their knowledge about human nature in the context of this marketing.  And so on.   {more examples of Science within Engineering}

Engineering within Science:  A "scientist" does "engineering" when... [to be continued]  I.O.U. - Later I will find, and link to, places where I've described this.  And probably I will write more about it.  /   One "place" is earlier when – while describing how "engineering and science are closely related" – I say "... And during a project for Science-Design they [expert designers] sometimes do General Design in Design Cycles for sub-projects or spinoff projects, or to solve process-problems that occur during a project."


{more about Mixing the Modes and Crossover Actions}



GENERATION of Information:
Old (in 2A) and New (in 2B, 2C-2D-2E)


2A — you LEARN by Finding Old Information  (into right frame`)

Timings:  Usually you begin by finding information — by learning more about a problem-situation so you will understand more accurately & thoroughly early in a process of design (while you're defining a problem), but you also can learn later while you are trying to solve the problem.


Two Kinds of Memory:  You can find knowledge-information that is old (already existing) by REMEMBERING it in your personal memory or LOCATING it in our collective memory, in what is recorded (culturally remembered) in books, journals, web-pages, audio & video recordings, etc.


A Wide Range of Knowledge:  You can find OLD knowledge-information about Problem-Situations, and Options (for a Problem-Solution), Option-Properties (predicted and observed), Experiments (mental or physical) plus associated Predictions or Observations, and explanatory Theories & Models.  Sometimes you'll want to learn more about skills that may help you during a process of design, or that (as with Strategies to improve Thinking Skills) are the objective of design.

A Wide Range of Usefulness:  This wide range of knowledge will be useful in all modes of action to help you improve the quality of everything you think and do.


Critical Thinking:  For all information you find, ask “is this particular claim-for-evidence (in a report about ‘what happened’) accurate?” and “based on a logical evaluation of all available evidence, is this claim-for-conclusion justifiable?”   {minimizing unproductive group-think}


The Importance of Empathy:  Almost all worthwhile problems involve people, so trying to improve your empathetic understanding — of what/how/why other people are thinking & feeling — is essential for understanding most problem-situations, to help you define objectives and goals.  And when the “involved person” is you — for example, if you're using a process of design to develop Strategies for Thinking — it's useful to have metacognitive self-empathy so you can understand yourself better.

The Joys of Discovery:  A process of learning (in Mode 2A) should be an exciting adventure of discovery !     { re: the motivational value of a word — During instruction, when a teacher says “now you get to DISCOVER” instead of “now you have to Learn (or Find or Prepare)” this will help students view learning as a process of discovery that is exciting and fun.  Using the word "discovery" as a motivator is one benefit of a model for DEEP Design Thinking that begins with D for Discovery. }

Flexible Thinking:  When students combine an accurate-and-thorough understanding of “what is” with flexible thinking that reduces restrictive assumptions (about “what must be”) they will become more free to imagine “what could be” in a practical reality-based Solution.   {the contrasting virtues of perseverance and flexibility}

Learning by Observing:  An important part of discovery is making your own new Observations about the problem-situation.    { This is a Physical Experiment, in Mode 2E, that is uncontrolled because you are observing the situation as-it-is now.  Later you can observe again after this situation has been modified, e.g. by supplementing it with a Solution-Option you are testing.   more about Old + New }


more about Finding Information in Mode 2A


Old plus New – both are GENERATION

All of this OLD information (searched for and found in Mode 2A above) is equivalent to, or analogous to, NEW information (produced in Modes 2B-2C-2D-2E) because GENERATION of Information (of Options, Experiments, Predictions, Observations) includes both finding OLD (aready existing) and inventing NEW.  The thinking-and-actions that someone did earlier to produce the OLD information you find in 2A, you can do now to get NEW Options (2B) for Solutions or Models, and NEW Experiments (2C) that allow NEW Predictions (2D) and NEW Observations (2E).    {a table - Generating Information (old & new) and Using It}



2B — you INVENT Options for a Solution  (into right frame`)

How do you Generate Options?  You can find old Options (in 2A), and invent new Options (in 2B), and improve old Options (in 2B).

You can creatively invent or improve by combining these four strategiesFree Generation, with creative thinking liberated by "reducing restrictive assumptions";*  Guided Generation, when "critical Evaluation motivates-and-guides your creative Generation," which could occur by Revising an old Option, perhaps by Analyzing an old Option into its features and (for each feature) asking whether it might be useful to revise this feature, and how it might be revised.

* Interactions of Old and New:  You can invent (in 2B) by finding an old Option (2A) and revising it, or with innovative Free Generation of an Option that is less connected with the old so it's “more new”.  Ideally, you want to be creative in searching so you're thorough in finding old Options (to use as-is or with revision), and also "reduce restrictive assumptions" so you retain your freedom of thinking, so a knowledge of “the way things have been” does not become an assumed certainty about “the way things must be.”  You want to effectively combine creative thinking and critical thinking with knowledge-of-ideas, so the result is PRODUCTIVE THINKING.   [[iou - eventually, some tips for reducing restrictive assumptions will be summarized here.]]



2C-2D-2E — EXPERIMENTING in Design Process  (into right frame`)

Design, Do, Use-Use-Use:   In any process of design, whether the problem-solving objective is to design a Solution (in General Design) or an explanatory Model (in Science-Design), experimenting (mentally & physically) is a focus for many modes of action, in 2C 2D 2E, 3A 3B, 2A 2B, because...

you DESIGN Experiments (below in Mode 2C),

and when you DO them...

    you first USE them to make Information, to make Predictions (by mentally imagining in Mental Experiments, 2D) and make Observations (by physically actualizing in Physical Experiments, 2E)...
    that you USE to do Evaluation in Quality Checks (3A) and Reality Checks (3B)...
    that you USE to guide Generation when critical Evaluation stimulates-and-guides creative Generation of old Options (2A) & new Options (2B) in Science Cycles and Design Cycles.

As outlined above, during a process of solving problems you USE Experiments (and the results of experiments, the Predictions & Observations that are Information) in three ways:

    1. for Experiment ➞ Information,  you USE an Experiment (Mental or Physical) to make Experimental Information (to make Predictions, or make Observations); *
    2. for Information ➞ Evaluation,  you USE this Experimental Information to do Experiment-Based Evaluation (to do evaluative Reality Checks, and do evaluative Quality Checks);
    3. for Evaluation ➞ Generation,  you USE this Experiment-Based critical Evaluation (of an old Option) to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation (of a new Option).

* Mental & Physical EXPERIMENTS produce Mental & Physical EXPERIENCES that let you make Mental Predictions & Physical Observations.


Below, you can see — when you move your mouse over the "1 2 3 3" added to Diagram 3b — four isolation diagrams that show only the problem-solving actions for Use #1 (to Make Information), and Use #2 (to Do Evaluation), and Use #3 (to Guide Generation).



4. for Evaluation ➞ Generation,  analogous to #3, you USE the Experiment-Based Evaluation (done in #2) to stimulate-and-guide your creative Generation of more Information, with more Experiments.   Why?  you will want more Information if you think it will help you do better Evaluation.   How?  you ask “what additional Information (Predictions or Obervations) would be useful for Evaluation, and what Experiments will help me get this Information?” to guide you in Designing More Experiments that you can Use-Use-Use in three ways (1 2 3), as outlined above.


8 Ways to Use Experiments:  In the diagram below, the left side shows "3 Ways to USE Experiments" in a simplified summary of the actions in Diagram 3b above.  And — if we distinguish between 2 kinds of Information (made mentally & physically) and two kinds of Evaluation (with Reality Checks & Quality Checks) — there are 8 Ways to USE Experiments.  Each way is shown by an underlined action-verb in these descriptions of how you:   1,1. USE Experiment to Make Information (by mentally Making Predictions, or physically Making Observations), then    2,2,2. USE Information (made in #1) to Do Evaluation (in 3 Evaluative Comparisons by Doing a Predictions-Based Quality Check, or by Doing a Predictions-and-Observations Reality Check, or by Doing an Observations-Based Quality Check), and then    3,3,3. Use Evaluation (done in #2) to Do Generation that (when you ask "revise...?" in Diagram 3b, or below) is Guided by a Predictions-Based Quality Check, or is Guided by a Predictions-versus-Observations Reality Check, or is Guided by an Observations-Based Quality Check.

Many Ways (3 or 8) to USE EXPERIMENTS


11 Ways to Use Experiments:  You can do the "8 Ways..." above, and also "4,4,4" when you USE Evaluation (done in #2, using any of the 3 Comparisons) to stimulate-and-guide your Generating of more Information (that you will make in #1) by Designing a Mental Experiment, or by Designing a Physical Experiment. Designing an Experiment that can be run mentally and/or physically.

== [[ notes for myself, for later use:  is this 444 (Designing an Experiment that can be done mentally and/or physically) {as in Diagrams 4a/4b where one Experimental System can be run "mentally and/or physically"} or {as in Diagram 3b where "Design and Do" is on left & right}, 444,444 (Designing a Mental Experiment, & Designing a Physical Experiment) -- I think it's probably 4,4,4 so there will be 11 Ways to Use.


MORE about How we Use Experiments in Flexible Goal-Directed Improvising and How we Do Experiments Mentally & Physically and How we Use Experiments in 3 Ways (generally) and 8 Ways (specifically).


Old plus New:  Experiments (Mental & Physical) that produce Experiences and Experimental Information (Predictions & Observations) can be old or new, and both can be useful ways to GENERATE Information.


2C — you DESIGN Experiments (Mental & Physical)

Experimental Design is interesting, and is important.  Why?  When you by Design Experiments (old or new, to do mentally or physically) you can get Experiences (mental or physical) that will help you learn, that can be used in many ways during a process of problem-solving Design Thinking.  To guide your Designing of Experiments (and thus Experiences), you can ask, “if we do this, what kinds of things might happen, and what could we learn that might be interesting or useful?”


The objective of Experimental Design is an Experimental System that (as explained in Stage 4 of Design Process) is an Option-in-a-Situation for General Design, and a Model-Using Situation for Science-Design.

As with all design, when you are Designing Experiments you use iterative Cycles of Design to creatively Generate Options for Experimental Systems (by finding old E-Systems in personal or collective memory and by creatively inventing new E-Systems), and critically Evaluate these Options.  Then (as in Diagram 4a`) you "Choose an Experimental System that you can run mentally and/or physically" when you "imagine in a Mental Experiment" and/or "actualize in a Physical Experiment".

Early in a process of Generating-and-Evaluating, you imagine different options-in-situations (= Experimental Systems) and ask “if we do this, what kinds of things might happen, what would we observe, and what could we learn? could this new information (from Predictions or Observations) be useful for the project? or at least interesting?  could it be a crucial experiment that helps us distinguish between competing Model-Options, or competing Solution-Options?”  This early phase of mental imagining is a creatively divergent search, a quick-and-cheap way to consider a wide variety of System-Options.  Then you can decide whether, for some Experimental Systems, you want to invest more effort in a careful planning of details (re: how to control its variables, what to observe and how), or making Predictions that are more thorough and precise/accurate, or shifting to Physical Experiments that usually require larger investments of time and money.  Or you can build a prototype of an Option (what+how and why of proto-typing) to use for quicker/cheaper physical experimenting.


The Creativity-Stimulating Benefit of A Simple Definition

We can stimulate the creative thinking of students — by letting them reduce restrictive assumptions about what an “experiment” is, thus encouraging them to explore a wider variety of Options for Experimental Systems — by using a simple, broad, minimally restrictive definition:  an Experiment is any situation that produces Experience, and provides an opportunity to get Experimental Information by making Predictions (in a Mental Experiment) or making Observations (in a Physical Experiment), so an Experimental System is any Prediction-Situation or Observation-Situation.     {more – the educational benefits of Using Broad Definitions to avoid restrictive assumptions and stimulate Creative Thinking}


Using Logic for Experimental Design

And we can help students understand more deeply when they study the logical details of effective Experimental Design.  Some ideas for doing this are explored in Stage 4 & Science Process & the longer page-summary (especially for Controlling Variables, Designing Experiments — AND my PhD work about Scientific Method includes an overview and details of designing Experimental Observation-Situations.



Experiments and Experiences  —  What are the causal relationships?

With my broad definition,* most experiences (but not all) are experimentally-caused experiences.     { I'm defining exeriment as "any action that is done, mentally or physically, by anyone,"  so experiments include 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. }

all Experiments produce Experiences:  When people — you or others — do Experiments (Mentally or Physically) that lead to Actions (Mental or Physical, imagined or actual), these Experiments always produce Experiences (Mental or Physical), so... all Experiments ➞ Experiences.

most Experiences are produced by Experiments:  Usually, but not always,* Experiences (Mental or Physical) occur because of choices — made by you and/or by others — to do Experiments that lead to Actions (Mental or Physical), so... Experiments ➞ most Experiences.

* Your Experiences occur due to one or more of these three causes:  Experiments done by You (i.e. Your Actions, done Mentally or Physically, imagined or actual);  Experiments done by Others (i.e. Their Actions, done Physically);  or things that are not caused by people (that are not “done” by any person, that seem to “just happen”, for example if a tornado destroys your house, or an unexpected disease occurs, or ...).  Due to the third cause (things not caused by people), Experimentally-Caused Experiences don't cause ALL Experience, just almost all.  But even when some aspects of an experience are "not caused by people" (this is common), many aspects of these experiences do involve people-and-their-actions;  for example, people are involved in preparing for a tornado, and people could be sharing the experience of a tornado.


More specifically, this table is a summary of how Your Experimental Actions (Mental & Physical) are involved, always or usually, in causing all of Your Mental Experiences and most of Your Physical Experiences.

  Your Mental Experiments  &  Your Physical Experiments 
are involved (always or usually) in producing  
  Your Mental Experiences  &  Your Physical Experiences:
  For a Mental Experience,
  you ALWAYS have to 
  imagine an Action-Situation
  and imagine doing an Action, 
  so (if you want) you can 
  PREDICT what would happen. 
  For a Physical Experience,
  you USUALLY have to 
  actualize an Action-Situation 
  and actually do an Action,
  so (if you want) you can 
  OBSERVE what did happen.
  Then (in "2" above) you can
  to Evaluate the Action.
  Then (in "2" above) you can 
  to Evaluate the Action.


2D — you PREDICT by doing a Mental Experiment  (into right frame`)


1. The simplest way to predict is using experience-based induction, by assuming “what happened before, in similar situations,* will happen again.”  My Model for Design Process claims we make Predictions by "using Model + Logic" and in this case your Model is the previous situation(s) and your Logic is assuming that “what happened before will happen again.”   /   * Asking “what is similar (about the previous situations & current situation) and what is different?” will help you make better predictions, with a level of confidence that is more appropriate.

And you can increase your transfers of understandings-and-predictions to a wider range of new situations by...


constructing a system-model and using it to make deductive predictions (by contrast with the inductive predictions in #1) with a two-step process:

2a. Construct a System-Model:  To explain "what happens, how and why" in an Experimental System, you can describe-and-explain by constructing a System-Model for the System's composition (what its parts are) and operation (what the parts do, and why).   /   Often, a System-Model is constructed by applying a general Theory(s) to a specific System, so it's a Theory-based System-Model.    {more about relationships between Models & Theories, Hypotheses, Explanations}   /   Many kinds of models can be constructed in many ways.   {e.g., When you are thinking "what happened before... will happen again" with experience-based induction (in #1), your model of the current Experimental System is that “it's similar to the previous E-System.”}

2b. Use If-Then Logic:  You do a Mental Experiment with a System-Model, making Predictions using if-then logic by reasoning that “IF the system behaves as expected (according to my System-Model), THEN my Prediction (my logical expectation) is that       will happen and       will be observed.”  With a model, you can predict using if-then logic with Model-based deduction (using deductive logic) or Model-based simulation (e.g. by running a computerized System-Model in which "running" plays the functional role of if-then logical deduction) or in other ways.    {more about Hypothesis/Explanation and testing with Hypothetico-Deductive Logic}


Domain:  Any if-then prediction can be an interpolation — for a System within a domain (a collection of related Experimental Systems) in which a Model is assumed to be valid, or observations are known — or an extrapolation outside this domain-of-application.  Usually a Model-based simulation is designed to make Predictions for many Systems (maybe all Systems) within the domain that is claimed/assumed for a Model.

Timing:  Although prediction implies that both steps (for Model and Logic) are done before Observations are known, it makes no logical difference if these are done after Observations are known, as in retroductive Guided Generation of Model-Options.   But... when using retroduction, caution is wise because we should be concerned about using ad hoc adjustments, so we should test for ad-hocness by checking a Model's compatibility with other Models (those that are widely accepted because they have solid scientific support) and the Model's performance in other Reality Checks that are done with other Experimental Situations.

Quality Control:  In a Reality Check the Predictive Accuracy (how closely do Predictions match Observations?) depends on both steps in predicting, when you construct a Model and use If-Then Logic to apply the Model.  Therefore, in a Science Cycle you can ask "revise Model?" and also "revise Logic?"


The longer summary has comments about:  defining theory broadly;  asking "why?" with a System-Model;  is the logic "if... then... because..." or "because... if... then..."?;  plus Quality Control for Predicting and the practical life-value of fluent predicting;  and a link for more about Using Models-and-Logic to Predict.

Below, the first diagram shows — but with more detail than in the diagram used for an earlier explanation {you can see both here to compare them} — the logical process of doing a Reality Check.  It's followed by the original “rectangular box” (made by Ronald Giere) that inspired my analogous diagrams.

Diagram 2c - showing The Logic of Science-Design, by using Reality Checks



Rectangular Box (made by Ronald Giere) showing the logic of Reality Checks


2E — you OBSERVE by doing a Physical Experiment  (into right frame`)

Design an Experimental System — by choosing an Option (for an Explanatory Theory) and a Situation in which this Theory is used — and then physically actualizing this Exp-System so you can do a Physical Experiment and make Observations as planned or by improvising.  Usually, creative-and-critical designing of an experiment (i.e. an E-System), or a set of related experiments, is required so you can make Observations that are easy (with quick-and-cheap prototyping) and/or are precise and accurate.


In the broad definitions I recommend (for experiment & observation) an observation is the result of observing in any way.  For example,...

For many E-Systems, you can make observations by using human senses (to see, hear, touch, taste, smell) or technological measuring-instruments (a ruler, scale, pipet, watch, thermometer, microscope, telescope, spectrometer, chromatograph,...) to get information that is qualitative or quantitative, represented verbally (with words,...), visually (pictures,...), or mathematically (numbers,...).

People are involved in almost all projects for General Design (when your objective is a product, activity, relationship, or strategy) so designing an E-System that lets you gather human feedback – by asking “what do you think?” or observing behaviors – provides valuable information that will help you think with empathy so you can more thoroughly-and-accurately understand other people.  And when you're designing metacognitive Thinking Strategies for yourself, you'll want to improve your understanding-of-yourself with self-empathy by using cognitive/metacognitive observations of the situation, your actions, and the results.   /   also:  When you are observing another person, trying to understand what they are thinking & feeling – as when a teacher wants to provide wise guidance – maybe it's useful to think of your actions as external empathetic metacognition.   {it's external and empathetic because your goal is to understand another person, and it's metacognition because you're thinking about their thinking}  {relationships between empathy & metacognition – can we have self-empathy & do other-metacognition?}


Objectivity in Observing:  The goal of science is to observe what actually happens in reality, unbiased by expectations or preferences, by what we expect will happen, or what we want to happen.  Are people objective observers?  Sometimes.  Although being objective (so we can observe accurately) is a goal of science, and of most scientists, of course we should think critically about the extent to which, in a classroom of students or a community of scientists, we are able to “see what's in front of our eyes, not what is behind them” while observing, and overcome a human tendency to “see what we expect to see, or want to see.”


Observations and Data:  In science and other areas, including education, observations are also called data, with meanings that are almost the same in most ways in most contexts, but sometimes with minor differences.   {relationships between observations & data – basic & with more detail and asking can predictions be data?}


MORE - Experiments & Observations



3A — you EVALUATE Options by using Quality Checks  (into right frame`)

Evaluations using Quality Checks — with the Quality of an Option defined by your Goal-criteria for a satisfactory Solution (in General Design) or Explanatory Model (in Science-Design, aka Science) — are the central activity in Design Process.   {Two Kinds of Design}


Evaluation is used for Argumentation

Your evaluation is the logical foundation for a process of argumentation* in which you construct an argument.  The arguing can occur inside your own mind, or (when the social skills of communication are used) in a group.

* How?  To construct an Argument, you use Evaluative Thinking — using evidence-and-reasoning to estimate an overall quality status for the option(s) being considered — combined with a Persuasion Strategy and Communication Skills.

Attitudes while Arguing:  In a group, usually the main goal of arguers is to influence the process of evaluation-and-decision in wisely productive ways with cooperative teamwork, to help the group choose the best possible problem-solution.  But often personal motives (re: egos or power) also are part of the process.  When two or more “influencers” argue, attitudes of antagonism (or even angry confrontation) should be minimized in a classroom, and in most other contexts.  Doing this well, so an evaluative discussion is productive — both technically (to design a better problem-solution) and personally (so it's beneficial for people in the community) — requires wisdom by filtering (and sometimes “counting to 10”) before counter-responding.    {more about attitudes}

Arguing versus Discussing:  Because words have implications, to promote better "attitudes while arguing" you may want to call an activity in the classroom (or outside it) an Evaluative Discussion instead of Evaluative Argumentation.   {choosing terms - critical vs evaluative, and argument vs discussion}

Improving Skills:  The practical value of argumentation skills is emphasized in current education standards (CCss and NGSs) because these skills are useful in life and therefore are valuable in education for life.  To make instruction more effective, during Argumentation Activities (i.e. Discussion Activities) a teacher can use a model of CER (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) supplemented by Design Process.


Making Decisions about Actions:  When you Evaluate Options by using Quality Checks (here in 3A) or Reality Checks (in 3B), this can stimulate a wide variety of response-Actions in all modes of thinking-and-action.  You decide “what to do next” (and later) by Coordinating your Process of Design.


Making Decisions about Options:  In a design project, solving a problem (in General Design) or answering a question (in Science-Design) requires decisions.  Usually you do this by comparing the estimated Quality Status for Options – trying to optimize benefits and achieve Goals.  You assign a Quality Status for each option by "combining evaluations from multiple Quality Checks... so all things are considered."  Usually there is "a tough competition because several options offer different benefits... so you must set priorities... and use trade-offs... to design an optimal Solution" for achieving your prioritized Goals.   {more about Determining Quality Status & Making Decisions;  and much more about multiple Quality Checks that are done using multiple Goals & multiple Experiments & multiple Options}    {a similar process-of-evaluation is done for Options [described here in Mode 3A] and for explanatory Models [described in Mode 3B], by using multiple Quality Checks to assign a Quality Status for each competitive Option, or using multiple Quality Checks (especially Reality Checks) to assign a Quality Status for each competitive Model}

Implementing (Actualizing) a Solution:  After you decide that one Option is a satisfactory Solution, often this leads into another phase of the Design Project, when you Implement the Solution, i.e. you Actualize the Solution by converting it from a Potential Solution into an Actual Solution.  For a product, implementing might occur in sub-projects to manufacture, market, distribute, and sell the Solution.   {I.O.U. - This project-phase needs to be described more thoroughly, and for other kinds of options, which I'll do later.  Here is an example of pursuing sub-objectives during a process of achieving an overall objective.}


3B — you EVALUATE Models by using Reality Checks  (into right frame`)

In Mode 3B, as in 3A, Evaluation is used for Argumentation.


This summary of Mode 3B – when we Evaluate Models in Science – is very condensed, with most ideas being described but not fully explained.  Therefore, I recommend keeping it in the right frame (you can put it there with this link`) and reading the explanations that are more full-and-clear in the longer summary on the left side.

It supplements "Designing Theory-Based Models" with details about three topics:  Theory, Model,... (definitions & relationships);  Evaluating Plausibility-and-Utility, so you can Decide;  The Logical Foundations of Science.


responding to “surprise” in a Reality Check

Sometimes you are “surprised” by a Reality Check because you expected Observations to match Predictions, but they don't closely match.  When this happens you can respond in many ways, by questioning (and examining) any of the elements involved in a Reality Check, because the lack of close matching could be due to...   errors in the Observations (maybe due to errors in Designing the Experiment or Doing the Experiment or Making Observations or Reporting Observations;   or errors in the Predictions due to errors in the Main Theory (used to make Predictions) or Supplementary Theories (that also are used) or in the logic used to derive Predictions from Theory(s);   or errors in the "Reality Check" comparison of Predictions with Observations.   All of these possibilities should be considered when you ask “why was the matching not closer?”    {The rest of this section will focus on the possibility of error in the Predictions.}  {iou – Later, maybe in April-May 2023, I'll continue writing this important subsection with more details.} 


Theory, Model, Hypothesis, Explanation

These four terms are similar because all are human efforts to describe-and-explain “what happens, how and why.”  We'll examine their similarities, differences, and relationships, to supplement the basic definition of a System-Model.

MORE — Below, each title (Theories, Models,...) is a link that lets you learn more in the longer summary for Mode 3B.


Theories:  When scientists are doing science-design (aka science), usually their intended meaning for Theory is an Explanation that has wide scope (a large application-domain) and strong support from evidence-and-logic.  More generally, a Theory is any attempt to understand “how the world works,” and we use our theories (scientific & personal, about a wide range of situations in life) to help us make wise decisions in life.   /   In education, teaching both definitions (explaining their similarities & differences) offers many benefits — so we should teach both definitions — especially for transfers of learning from school into life.  Here in Mode 3B, I mainly use the narrow scientific definition, but elsewhere I also use the broader general definition that I think is typically more useful for communication and for education.

Models:  In science, Theories and Models are similar when both describe the composition-and-operation of an Experimental System (E-System).*   But in science they can differ in status (usually high for a Theory, ranging from low to high for a Model) and scope (usually narrower for a Model, especially when a System-Model is constructed by applying a general Theory to make a Model for one E-System, or one type of E-System).  Often, a Theory is simplified to form a Model, and the same Theory can be used in Models with different inclusions/exclusions, simplifying approximations, and representations.  Or models can be formed in other ways, as with experience-based inductive reasoning that "what happened before, in similar situations [for similar E-Systems], will happen again."

Model-Representations:  Our external representations of a Model can take many forms, with each being useful for different purposes.  And each of us personally constructs our own Mental Models that are internal representations of a Model.

* theory & model both have a wide range of definitions, in Science Standards and elsewhere.


Hypotheses:  A Hypothesis claims that a mental System-Model and physical Experimental System are similar to some degree in some ways.  The same System-Model (trying to explain "what happens, how and why") can be used in different Model-based Hypotheses that make different claims when asking “how similar, and in what ways?”  A very strong Hypothesis would claim an exact correspondence between Model and System (between “what you think happens, and what really happens”) in all ways, while a very weak Hypothesis would claim only a rough approximation for some aspects of a Model.  Therefore, the same System-Model can be used in different Hypotheses [and thus Explanations] that make different claims.  A Model-based Explanation (or Theory-based Explanation, since many Models are based on Theories) can be constructed for one System or a domain of similar systems.

Explanations:  A Hypothesis is a possible Explanation, an Explanation-Option, a hypothetical Explanation being proposed as a possibility that (as-is or revised) could become an Explanation that, based on all available evidence-and-logic, you have decided is the best Explanation for “what, how, and why.”  When you use if-then reasoning to make Predictions, your confidence in the "if" (when you wonder “is it correct?”) can range from low to high.  When your confidence in a particular Explanation-Option is relatively low, you call it a Hypothesis that is a possible Explanation;  later, if your confidence becomes high enough, you may claim it's the Explanation, or (with a little more humility) is currently the best Explanation.  When your confidence becomes high, your thinking may shift from "if ___, then ___" to "because ___, then ___".

How do you move from Hypothesis to Explanation?  Below is a simplified 3-step summary of Scientific Logic, followed by Goal-Criteria for Deciding "What is the best Explanation?"


Designing an Explanation:  First you construct a System-Model for the Experimental System.  Second, you form a Hypothesis (an Explanation-Option) by proposing that the System-Model is similar to the System (to some degree, in some aspects) so it might explain “what happens, how and why” in the System.  Third, you evaluate this Hypothesis by using...

Hypothetico-Deductive Logic is the foundation of Scientific Logic.  Diagram 3c` shows how to test a Hypothesis — which proposes that "System-Model ≈ System" (that they are “approximately equal” because they are "similar... to some degree, in some aspects") — by using if-then logic to make Predictions, which are compared with Observations in a Reality Check that is a test of the Predictive Accuracy for this System-Model.   /   For a scientifically important question, scientists will (if it's possible) do multiple Reality Checks.


Goal-Criteria for Quality Checks:  When an explanatory System-Model is evaluated using Quality Checks, usually the most important Goal-Criterion (to define Quality) is empirical Predictive Accuracy.  But other Goal-Criteria (described briefly and in detail) also are used for defining overall Quality.

Deciding – What is the best Explanation?  When all things are considered, multiple Goal-Criteria are used in multiple Quality Checks to estimate a Quality Status for each competitive Model,* and make “optimizing” decisions if different Models are favored by different criteria.    {* a similar process is used to evaluate Models or Theories, Hypotheses, Explanations}


The Logical Foundations of Science:  Although we cannot have total certainty that a "what, when, how, why" explanation is correct (by corresponding to truth, which is the reality of what did happen or is happening), we can develop a logically justifiable confidence about its plausibility, its estimated probability of being correct.    { This claim-about-confidence is accepted by most scientists, who are critical realists, but is disputed by instrumentalists and postmodern relativists. }



4A — you COORDINATE your Process of Design  (into right frame`)

What?  In this mode you make action-decisions by deciding “what to do next.”

Why?  A coordination of Action-Decisions is necessary because you always have many options for Design Actions.  For example, after Evaluation (with a Quality Check or Reality Check) your next Action can occur in any of the 10 modes of mental & physical action which are the actions in Diagram 3b.     { And if you're using a hybrid model that combines Design Process with another model-for-process, you also can think about long-term phases (of another model) as options for “what to do next.” }


How?  Part 1, a quick overview:  To coordinate a problem-solving process of design (whether it's individual or collaborative), you observe your process, then generate-and-evaluate options for actions so you can make an action-decision by asking “what is the best use of my time right now?” (considering both urgency & importance) and choosing an action.    { Sometimes your next action is a coordinating-of-actions in Mode 4A. }



benefits for Performing:  The direct short-term benefits of effective coordination — which converts individual creative-and-critical thinking skills into productive whole-process skills — are using time more effectively and/or designing a better solution.

Coordination Decisions can help you now (for better current performing) and/or later (when current learning produces better future performing).   Performing and/or Learning

benefits for Learning:  The long-term benefits include learning how to improve your Strategies for Coordinating, which is one kind of cognitive-and-metacognitive Strategy for Thinking that is part of your Cognitive/Metacognitive Knowledge.


How?  Part 2, with more detail:  You coordinate a process of design by combining Process-Awareness (by aware observing of your process-situation, of “where you are” in your process, and comparing this with “where you want to go” for a solution) and Conditional Knowledge that helps you find a match between a recognized need (it's WHAT you want to do, in an effort to move from your now-situation toward your goal-situation, to make problem-solving progress) and a known capability (for WHAT you can do):

    You decide "WHAT you want to do" with metacognitive awareness-of-process (by aware observing of where you are in your current situation) plus cognition (by comparing where you are with where you want to go, with your goal-situation for process, when you can celebrate because you have designed a satisfactory solution that achieves the solution-goals you defined in Modes 1A-1B).
    You'll know "WHAT you can do" by developing, for each of your skills, a Conditional Knowledge about its functional capabilities (WHAT it lets you do, and thus WHY it's useful) and its conditions-of-application (for WHEN it will be useful).*
    When you find an option-for-Action that is a WHAT-and-WHAT match (between the WHAT-need for your process, and the Action's WHAT-capabilities), this is a productive Action that you may want to choose and do.
    {an effective coordinating will wisely use the contrasting virtues of perseverance and flexibility as illustrated by How I Didn't Learn to Ski - and then did learn}

a summary:  Conditional Knowledge helps you choose an action that is productive because it helps you make progress in moving from “where you are now” toward “where you want to go” for a satisfactory solution.


* Above, the focus is Performing, by Using Conditional Knowledge.  Now we'll look at Learning, in a process of...


Developing Conditional Knowledge

To master a skill (or sequence of skills) you should know HOW to use it, and also WHY to use it (WHAT it lets you accomplish) and WHEN to use it.  To develop the understanding of WHY/WHAT-and-WHEN that is your Conditional Knowledge for this skill, you ask WHY (WHAT are the skill's functional capabilities?  i.e., WHAT can I accomplish by using it? WHY might it be useful?) and WHEN (in which conditions-of-use will the skill be useful? which situation-cues will help me recognize these application-conditions?).

You can ask these WHAT/WHY-and-WHEN questions for individual skills, and also combinations of functionally related skills plus ideas and skills-with-ideas.

To help you remember WHEN, so you will use the skill when it will be useful, you can intentionally learn for transfer (for remembering-and-using the skill in new situations in your future) with vivid concrete imagery, by creatively imagining that “if the situation is     or     or     , then I can use    ”, so in the future each of your situation-cues will be a reminder to use this skill.

A teacher should encourage & guide this “WHY/WHAT and WHEN” questioning, to help students improve their Conditional Knowledge for the skills (and ideas) they are learning, so in the future they will be able to use each skill (or idea) in all appropriate situations.


Collaboration and Communication

When a group does a design project with cooperative collaboration, skillful communication helps to improve present performance (to produce a more efficient process and a better solution) and also (due to what the group is learning) future performance.

I.O.U. — Later this important section will be developed more fully.  Until then, some basic principles are in other sections:  collaboration & communication and minimizing unproductive group-think  –  developing a creative-and-critical community and the pros & cons of group brainstorming {wikipedia} –  and more.   [ iou – eventually the "more" will include creative uses of coordination in design thinking (as with OpenIDEO or the Co-Creation of Butterfly Works) and in many other areas of life, in businesses, coaching staffs, schools, etc, wherever there is a "division of labor" and delegation of responsibilities for parts of an overall process that are coordinated to construct a whole process of design.]

Although each of these related skills (Collaboration and Communication) could be defined as a "mode" of thinking-and-action, I've included them as part of Mode 4A - Coordinating a Process of Design because in a group project you must ask “what, when, why, how?” and also “who?”  When you make action-decisions about “who should do what, now and later” the “who” can be you, her/him, them, or us.


Action Sequences in Design Process

During a process of design, designers do use short-term sequences of actions, but there is no overall sequence that should be rigidly followed and uniformly used.  Instead, expert designers use...

Structured Improvisation, with a coordination of design-actions that is analogous to an expert hockey player's process of goal-directed structured improvising, guided by a strategic action-coordinating plan that is intentionally flexible, open to real-time adjustments in response to what is happening.  In both hockey and design,* adaptive expertise is useful.  During a process of design, flexibility is possible — despite a frequent use of structured sequences in which thinking-actions are combined in functionally useful ways — due to branching options that allow improvised choices.

* This analogy is expanded in Two Skaters (plus Maps/Music & Tools) which gives reasons for saying YES and YES when asking “are there principles for skillful designing?” and “should teachers help students learn these principles?”


Short-Term Sequences

Design and Do/Use and Use and Use:  Designers often use two functionally integrated sequences that are featured in Diagrams 3b and 4a`:   Moving downward on the left side of Diagram 3b, individual thinking-actions are combined into productive sequences when you DESIGN-and-DO a Mental Experiment (by imagining) to make Predictions that you USE for Evaluation by Comparing these Predictions with your Goals-for-Quality in a Predictions-Based Quality Check.  Similarly, on the right side you Design-and-Do a Physical Experiment (by actualizing) to make Observations that you USE by Comparing these Observations with Goals in an Observations-Based Quality Check.

Diagram 4a shows branching-options for these two sequences:

    After you DESIGN an Experiment you can decide whether to do it as a Mental Experiment, a Physical Experiment, or (eventually) both, or do another Action.
    When you DO an Experiment you can USE the Experiment to Make Information (Predictions or Observations) that can be used for Evaluation.
    How?  On the left side, you can mentally USE your Predictions in a Prediction-Based Quality Check, or a Prediction-and-Observation Reality Check, or both.  Similarly, you can USE your Observations for an Observation-Based Quality Check and/or a Prediction-and-Observation Reality Check.  Or, after an Experiment you can do another Action.
    Then, after you do an evaluative Check (for Quality or Reality) your options-for-process continue, if you want to complete a Cycle for Science or Design.  You may want to USE a Reality Check (shown by "use RC" in Diagram 3b) if the RC stimulates you to ask “should I revise the Explanatory Model that I used to make Predictions, trying to achieve a better match with Observations?” in a Science Cycle.  Or you can USE a Quality Check (either Predictions-Based or Observations-Based, shown by "use QC" in Diagram 3b) if a QC stimulates you to ask “should I revise this Option, to achieve a better match with my Goals?” in a Design Cycle.  In each kind of Cycle, you do creative-and-critical Guided Generation when your creative Generation is stimulated-and-guided by your critical Evaluation, using Retroductive Logic.  Or you can do another Action.
    These four actions — when you Design and Do/USE and USE and USE Experiments (often in sequence) — are why "experiments are a focus of action," as described here and in isolation diagrams that show “what happens” in each of the 3 Ways to Use Experiments.

Another type of branching-option is the choice of cycles to use.

Cyclic Sequences:  These basic sequences, which are used to Evaluate, become part of a Cycle of Design or Cycle of Science when critical Evaluation is creatively used — to Generate Solution-Options (guided by Quality Checks) in General Design, or to Generate Model-Options (guided mainly by Reality Checks) in Science-Design — with creative-and-critical Guided Generation.   

Options for Cycles:  In the wider context of a Design Project, the purpose of your actions in Generating-and-Evaluating is to achieve an Objective, to "make it better" by solving a Problem.  While you're trying to achieve your Objective(s), you can use iterative Cycles of Design for one Option or multiple Options.   /   And in a model with a different perspective you learn from experience by using new Observations (produced during MONITOR when you Do-and-Observe) when cycles of GENERATE-and-EVALUATE operate within broader cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR.


Tendencies and Sequences:  When you Design an Experiment, the focus of your attention is experimenting so you tend to Do an Experiment as your next action.  Then, when you get experimental information (Predictions or Observations) you tend to ask “so what? does this make any difference in the quality status of options?” and you Use this information for Evaluation when you COMPARE in a Quality Check or Reality Check.  Therefore, the actions of Design-Do-Use/Use tend to occur together, to form a sequence of actions.

Multiple Reasonable Options:  But after Evaluation you tend to ask “now what?” because often there is no obvious “next step” so you can consider actions in all of the 10 modes of thinking/action.

Structure with Flexibility:  Do structured sequences occur when using Design Process?  A reason to say “yes” is because some combinations of actions (like design-do/use-use-use) often are especially productive, so they often occur.  But it's “no” because you always have freedom to adjust your choice of actions "in response to what is happening" so instead of being restricted by a rigid sequence you can do goal-directed flexible improvising.  But it's “no” because you always can freely choose “what to do next”;  you have freedom to adjust your choice of goal-directed actions "in response to what is happening" so instead of being restricted by a rigid sequence you can do flexible improvising.


Long-Term Sequences (in Phases of Design)

Some actions tend to happen early in a process of design, and others later.  For example, quick-and-cheap Mental Ideation (to Generate options) tends to occur early, followed by Physical Testing (to Evaluate promising options) using Physical Experiments that are more costly in time and money.  And carefully Defining a Problem should occur before Solving this Problem.  Both of these tendencies are long-term sequencing, if sequencing is defined broadly.  These long-term Phases of Design, which occur due to tendencies of timing, form the main framework in most Other Models for Design.


Short-Term Sequences within Long-Term Phases

A long-term phase usually contains many short-term actions & sequences that are functionally related because they help you make progress toward achieving your objective of solving the problem.  Your creative-and-critical productive thinking occurs during short-term sequences that can be viewed in the context of long-term phases.


Combining Perspectives (Short-Term and Long-Term):  The home-page outlines a 3-stage strategy for combining process-models.  A related 3-stage strategy, with a change of timing,* begins with instruction using Another Model;  then we show students how its long-term phases can be split into the two major phases (Define a Problem, Solve the Problem) of Design Process;  and how flexible short-term sequences of actions — for example, when students Design-and-Do-and-Use two kinds of Experiments (Mental & Physical) — occur within the long-term phases.  A student's productive creative-and-critical thinking occurs in these short-term actions.

* The two timings are:

    Design Process (with only Stage 1), Other Model, Design Process (with all stages), and then both;
    Other Model, Design Process (with Stage 1 & beyond), then both, alternating or (ideally) together.

Typically, a model-for-process is educationally useful by providing Structure (for Instruction) and Strategies (for Thinking).

And combining two models offers educational benefits for students.




Usually you should put this page into right frame (using link in the upper-right corner of this page) if it isn't there already, because most of its links open in the left frame.  But in the Table of Contents at the top of this page, most links (all except the italicized links) open in the right frame, so you'll want this Table to be in the left frame so it will remain visible while you visit different page-summaries.   {more about "why?" for iframes}


   HOME-PAGE for the Website 

These topics are in the Home Page:

Using Design Process for Education can improve creative-and-critical problem solving skills, cognitive-and-metacognitive strategies, motivations to learn, and transfers of learning.

• my bio-page about life on a road less traveled.

I.O.U. – This section (written a long time ago) needs to be updated because the home-page now is much different, so I will revise this summary soon, during April 2023.

• tips for what to read first:  a brief summary and longer summary and Two-Page Combinations and...

• brief descriptions of topics in the Executive Summary (it's the page you're now reading) which includes Problems & Objectives (above) and (below) WHY we should teach Design Process and HOW to teach Design Process - WHAT Design Process IS NOT - WHAT Design Process IS - An Overview - Science is Design - Overview of Science Process - Metacognitive Strategies for Coordinating Design-Actions and for Learning/Performing, and MORE.

Sitemap - how it shows the Past Present Future of your explorations.

• Why should you click the link (for "left frame" or "right frame") in the top-right corner of every page?  (and elsewhere in a page)

• Who are "we"?  This website is written for educators, and is designed for efficient learning.



If you have questions, or want to discuss any of these ideas,
please contact me:  Craig Rusbult <craigru178-att-yahoo-daut-caum>
Page-URL is https://educationforproblemsolving.net/design-thinking/ws.htm
Copyright © 1978-2023 by Craig Rusbult.  All Rights Reserved.
This page is designed to be on the right side, so put it there.