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Articles and Papers

A Design Challenge to Students: Solve a Real-World Problem!, MindShift KQED on April 25, 2013

Design is to Doing as Learning is to Thinking
, IDSA Innovation Journal 2011

Victor Papanek Going Forward, IDSA Education Symposium 2010

Designing Learning Activities with Student Perceptions of Engagement in Mind, National Louis University 2008


Living, Designing, and Learning in a Sustainable World, IDSA Innovation Journal 2007

Living, Learning, Leaving a Legacy, The Centre for Sustainable Design 2007

Sensory Integration Overview, Lake Forest School District 67 2006

A Design Challenge to Students: Solve a Real-World Problem! by Ian Quillen, MindShift KQED on April 25, 2013






Design is to Doing as Learning is to Thinking by Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. Industrial Designers Society of America Quarterly Innovation Journal, Summer 2011





Victor Papanek Going Forward by Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. and Walter Hargrove, M.I.D Industrial Designers Society of America 2010 Education Symposium, Portland, Oregon






Designing Learning Activities with Student Perceptions of Engagement in Mind by Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. Graduate Work 2008, National Louis University







"DESIGN or DEFAULT" the choice, and the legacy, is ours...  by JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA and Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. Greening of Industry Network 2007 Conference, Ontario, Canada






Living, Designing, and Learning in a Sustainable World by JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA and Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. Industrial Designers Society of America Quarterly Innovation Journal, Summer 2007






Living, Learning, Leaving a Legacy by JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA and Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. The Centre for Sustainable Design, Innovation 2007 Conference, Farnham, United Kingdom






Sensory Integration Overview by Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed. Lake Forest School District 67 Lecture Series 2006 Proposal

Creating a safe recreation space for teens; protoyping a recyclable lunch tray; setting up a water delivery system to guard against urban fires; building a public awareness campaign to combat hunger. These are just a few of examples of the types of tasks students are taking on when they participate in the Design Learning Challenge, an effort to get students to figure out how to solve real-world problems in their communities.

Combining project-based learning, with an emphasis on the arts and design thinking, this academic competition now in its third year — a partnership between the Industrial Designers Society of America, or IDSA, and the National ArtEducation Association, or NAEA — has more than 750 students participating this year.




The capacity to innovate is directly linked to a designer’s ability to continuously “learn, think, do,” a phrase coined by JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA. These foundational elements are prerequisites to the design process and, most significantly, are inseparable. Learning prepares us to think (process, comprehend, visualize and articulate complex problem sets). Design readies us to do (take action based on what may appear to be incongruent choices interwoven into a strong desire to innovate). To innovate, designers must know how to problem solve in creative ways, use critical thinking skills to process multiple perspectives, adapt communication approaches to meet stakeholder needs and navigate dynamic levels of diversity to effectively collaborate. Thoughtful integration of the design process with the learning process creates a ground-breaking framework for design learning.



Throughout the 2009
2010 school year, Doris WellsPapanek, M.Ed. and Walter Hargrove, M.I.D.collaborated on an action research pilot study focused on developing a humancentered design curriculum. The purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of the relevance and influence of Victor Papanek’s past work on humancentered design today. Primary references of Victor Papanek’s research include an article written by Papanek in 1988 for MIT Press Journals, Design Issues entitled, “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be” as well as an unpublished video recorded lecture Papanek delivered in 1992 at Apple Computer entitled, “Microbes in the Tower.” Going forward into the present, additional references include highlights of perceptions, insights and experiences from two humancentered design practitioner interviews along with humancentered teaching and learning practices grounded in current applied research on brain-based teaching and studentdirected learning using a flexible instructional approach based on student learning needs. 



This interactive literature review is an embedded component of my graduate coursework at National Louis University within the Curriculum and Instruction Design Program with multiple intended applications. This student engagement study and associated literature reviews are a work in progress. Initial research will focus on the context of today’s students, followed by a series of student engagement professional development workshops, as well as student-centered employment opportunities. The scope of this literature review is limited to targeted questions 1, 2, and 3. This version will help to prepare for upcoming action research fieldwork at a high school. I will be working with a targeted set of students to produce a series of visualizations and articulations to capture their perceived levels of engagement in their daily learning activities. To become aware of the context of today’s learners, it is critical to identify attributes of student mindsets, dispositions, and readiness to learn with respect to the curriculum and instructional approaches. We are searching for patterns, trends, and a sense of student voice in order to better understand and support their learning needs. 



When we design, we take on a responsibility, not only for form and function, but for the effects that our solutions have on people, culture, and the environment. Merely serving commercial interests denies the true potential of Design. The authors believe that Design can facilitate comprehensive solutions that align commercial interests with human, cultural, and environmental interests while respecting the intrinsic value of each. They present the concept of the trajectory, and the technical, societal, and political inflections that have brought us to the present; and will take us into the future. By rethinking and repositioning the Design process, they suggest that we can create better and more sustainable outcomes for society and for our “man-made” eco-industrial reality and the greater ecology; presenting a framework designed to create a dialogue that enhances and expands the product development process that, they believe, can lead to more inclusive, anticipatory, and comprehensive solutions.



Since our emergence on the planet, we have been consuming its bounty to meet our needs and wants. This behavior has affected Earth’s evolution and well-being. In the distant past, the effects were synergistic or mitigated by the planet’s absorption and corrective systems, which kept the planet in balance, sustaining it, and us, for millennia. The Industrial Revolution, and its associated increases in productivity and population, changed that balance. By the middle of the 21st century, our numbers will exceed nine billion people, each with a footprint that is likely to grow larger as a result of increasing consumption, due, in part, to the proliferation of our designed reality. Today, more than ever, where we live, how we live and how we learn about and from each other are affected by design. As Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” But it’s more than our buildings that we design; it’s our products, our places and our experiences. These form an eco-industrial framework that defines and shapes us.



Today design, more than ever, affects the realities of where we live, how we live, how we relate to each other, and how we learn about and from each other. As Winston Churchill said: "...We shape [design] our buildings; thereafter they shape us." It is more than our buildings; we design our products, our places, and our experiences. Together these form a “man­made” eco­industrial reality which defines and shapes us. But, is our man­made world truly designed? Or, have we unintentionally created a series of default conditions that have stressed both our ecosphere and our ethno sphere beyond recovery? Through our Designs and/or our Defaults, are we creating a future in which we will simply survive, sustain, or thrive and flourish? When we design, we take on a responsibility, not just for form and function, but for the less obvious effects that our solutions have on people, culture, and the environment ­ whatever the scale. 



We as humans, spend every moment of our waking hours receiving input via our sensory system. Our brain interacts with the senses to regulate the quality and the quantity of the information we process. The most current brain based learning research tells us that 99% of the input we receive is discarded, leaving only 1% to hold onto in our short-term memory. In order to attend to our work, activity, or interaction, we learn over time to tune out extra stimuli and only respond to select information. Of the information we deem important, our working memory is responsible to decide how to act or react within 20 seconds, assuming we are juggling about seven items or less. From there, we tap into our long-term memory to connect with existing knowledge and past experiences. Imagine what a student experiences on a daily basis if their sensory system and brain are not providing them with the proper ability to regulate the quality and/or quantity of information they are learning and interacting with at school. They are in a constant state of struggle to balance what is expected of them and what they are able to perform.