Designing and engineering is sometimes referred to as outcome oriented. That is, designers are working to solve a particular problem or create products with particular abilities. Given the proliferation of standards documents and value-added measures, clearly education is working to become outcome oriented. Yet, something is deeply flawed. Unfortunately, many of us feel as though we are designers-for-hire required to meet someone else’s goals and objectives (e.g. the common core, state standards, the textbook, etc). While designers do have to meet external standards, particularly when their design is part of a larger system, they often have loads of autonomy in their designs for added features and functions. Indeed, innovation often happens when designers add new outcomes or features to existing products.
While the state/curricular standards might be a non-negotiable (I’d argue even they are negotiable), what additional outcomes and features would we want as we design an education for our students? For me, beyond the external content standards, I want my students to demonstrate:
- critical thinking
- goal setting
If we take these outcomes seriously, the education we’re designing is going to look different than the one designed for us. Readings, lectures, worksheets, and multiple choice tests will not achieve these outcomes. Step-by-step labs and overly descriptive rubrics are designed, but lead to very different outcomes.
What are the outcomes (features?) you want to include in the education you’re designing for your students? Once we’ve figure out where we want to go, we can start applying other principles of design to achieve the outcomes.
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