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Caylee Raber (author)
Emily Carr University of Art and Design Graduate Studies (Degree granting institution)
Design-based learning for the elementary school classroom
As part of a two-year collaboration with over 100 students in grade 4-7 classrooms at Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School (KGMS), this thesis project introduced design-based learning as a new pedagogic approach for supporting children with learning differences. Design-based learning is the integration of design into classrooms as a means to support the learning of other subjects, skills and knowledge. It considers design as an approach to teaching and learning, not as its own subject of study. There is growing recognition that our current educational methods and approaches need to equip children with important skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. The BC Ministry of Education is currently in the process of transforming the curriculum to emphasize the development of these skills as core competencies (BC Ministry of Education, 2015, p.8). The use of design as an approach to fostering these skills is gaining momentum in education discussions across North America. However, despite the growth of knowledge and research in the area of education reform, design continues to evade integration in mainstream K12 education due to a lack of available resources and training for teachers. This document outlines the process of developing such materials. Through observations, conversations and the results of a pre- and post-design assessment the classroom teachers at KGMS saw profound benefits to the use of design as an approach to learning. To facilitate this approach, resource materials were developed to support teachers and a design coaching model was introduced as a way to provide ongoing, sustained professional development for teachers in the area of design-based learning.