How To Apply Design Thinking To Complex Problems In Student Affairs
Challenge - Solving problems with design thinking
How to make decisions in today's rapidly changing environment, and how to build collaboration into our problem-solving processes.
Participants will learn the essential elements of design thinking and apply them to make better decisions and create better strategies.
Collaboration is an established value in student affairs, as is the focus on student-centeredness. And yet, we often struggle to collaborate meaningfully with faculty and colleagues across our institutions. We also frequently fail to engage students in our decision-making processes to the extent we should. Perhaps we add a student to a committee or run our proposal by a shared governance committee – but how do we meaningfully engage students in problem-solving processes, designing solutions together?
Today's problems we face in higher education are complex and are not easily solved in isolation. In the realm of design thinking, these are often referred to as "Wicked Problems." (Buchanan, 1992; Rittel & Webber, 1973). These are problems on which there is no clear consensus of the right or wrong way to approach the problem and which require collaborative, interdisciplinary solutions. Our failure to address these problems adequately is evident in the declining public trust enjoyed by higher education. Yet, for a growing number of professionals, Design Thinking offers a structure for facilitating meaningful collaboration and problem-solving. Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon first advanced the concept of design thinking, defining it as "…courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones." And while that sounds enticing, figuring out how to practically approach this goal has eluded many.
Among the best-known structures for Design Thinking was developed at the Sandford University School of Design. This five-phase process is: empathize, define, ideate, develop a prototype, and test. The process is iterative, which means that we may repeat stages multiple times to redefine problems and develop solutions – but when practiced effectively, it demands that we do a few things that many neglects in traditional problem-solving processes. This includes coming to a common sense of the problem from various perspectives, understanding the complexities and interconnectedness of issues, developing innovative solutions, and testing/refining those solutions based on what we learn.
In this session, Dr. Adam Peck will provide an overview of Design Thinking concepts and how they can inform traditional approaches to problem-solving. In addition, he will draw upon ideas from his forthcoming book for which he is serving as co-author and co-editor, "Applying Design Thinking to the Measurement of Experiential Learning."
- Learn the basic elements of design thinking
- Learn design thinking concepts and how they can inform traditional approaches to problem-solving
- Discover how to use design thinking to collaborate with key stakeholders
- Explore how to apply design thinking to strategy and strategic planning development
- Student Services/Affairs
- Assessment Personnel/Institutional Success Staff
- Any educator interested in learning more about design thinking
“Many faculty are quick to assert that they were never taught to teach, likewise, many administrators must also admit that we haven’t been trained to do the thing that is most central to our mission – making decisions.”
Dr. Adam Peck serves as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Illinois State University. He has been a student affairs practitioner for more than 25 years. He is the author of more than fifty scholarly publications and has presented more than 100 national and international webinars. He served as editor and co-author of the book, "Engagement & Employability: Integrating Career Learning Through Cocurricular Experiences in Postsecondary Education" (NASPA Press, March 2017). He also served as co-editor for, "Leadership Development in Student Employment, New Directions for Student Leadership" with executive editors Susan Komives and Kathy Guthrie. His most recent book is titled, “Applying Design Thinking to the Measurement of Student Learning” (with Danielle Desawal).
Dr. Peck is actively engaged in a number of professional associations. He is a former president of the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators and as the former State Director for NASPA Texas. He has been named one of the "Champions of Assessment" by Campus Labs and received the "Founders Award" from NACA for contributions to the field of student activities.
Dr. Peck earned his bachelor's degree in Theatre from Lewis University, a master's degree in Communication Studies from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.
Bio current as of January 2022.
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