Measuring The Transfer of Design Practice from Training Contexts to Applied Contexts

PI: Prof. Sheri Sheppard, Bernard Roth


This proposal outlines two studies that will describe and measure how people transfer design practice from academic contexts to applied contexts—a core, but understudied facet of design thinking. This research is an extension of our current work around reflection and contextual aspects of design thinking. Transfer happens when an individual learns in one context and applies that knowledge in another context. The more related the contexts, the easier it is to apply knowledge. Furthermore, the more an individual reflects on learning, the easier it is to transfer knowledge. The first objective is to assess the different organizational contexts in which people apply design thinking. We will then compare those contexts to a typical context in which design thinking is learned. This will yield a new measure of how conducive an organization is to design thinking. The second objective is to measure which aspects of design thinking are more or less likely to transfer. Based on our current research we chose environment, collaboration, and personal creative behaviors as the initial aspects our measure will detect. Transferring design practice from training to application is key to the continued growth of design thinking. Effectively measuring transfer allows us to improve it.