Curriculum Design: Using the Five Discourses of Design Thinking

Javeed Kittur, George K. Karway, Mohammad Zaid Alrajhi, Brian Carl Nelson, Seungki Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Unlike in the past, curriculum is currently dynamic and demands continuous improvisations at different levels such as classroom, teacher expertise, and standards within a curriculum, among others. The dynamism in education is due to various factors including students' changing requirements, industry's changing requirements, changes in the needs of the society, etc. There is a need to better understand which factors must be strategically considered when designing a curriculum such that the curriculum meets the needs of all the stakeholders. This study investigates how elements of design thinking can be integrated into a curriculum to provide appropriate skills that support interdisciplinary and integrative efforts to meet the needs of the 21st century. The 'five discourses of design thinking' model was used as a framework to guide this study. Components of the five discourses of design thinking model include artifacts, processes, experiences, systems, and cultures. Qualitative research method was used to understand the approaches used to incorporate the five discourses of design thinking when designing a new curriculum or improvising an existing one. To understand from the experiences of individuals with expertise in curriculum design and to get more insights on the research question, 'How can the elements of design thinking be integrated into the curriculum to provide appropriate skills that support interdisciplinary and integrative efforts to meet the needs of 21st-century life?', three semi-structured interviews were conducted using an online platform. Each interview lasted between 45 to 60 minutes. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded and used in the analysis. The deductive coding approach was used in the qualitative analysis and themes developed were 1) integration of education and design, 2) five discourses, and 3) advice for novices. In addition to the interview, two sample case studies focusing on curriculum design from the literature was examined to understand how well they map to the five discourses of design thinking. Studies were selected if they discussed curriculum design or evaluated the application of a new curriculum design. Two studies were selected, and key components related to curriculum design or utilization was analyzed. The beliefs and opinions of participants on integrating the discourses of design thinking in curriculum design are presented along with findings from the comparative case studies. Limitations and future research directions are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021


  • Curriculum
  • Design
  • Design thinking
  • Discourses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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