Subject says it all; I need to settle on a paper to write about for my "Design as X" (pick X) project, so here are the front-runners:

  • "Characterizing Design Learning: A Mixed-Methods Study of Engineering Designers' Use of Language, " a paper that basically says "yeah, as students learn engineering design, they learn to talk like engineering designers, and here's how." This is important, because the act of learning to participate in a community's discourse is a powerful and vital part of joining that community (according to Wenger and Lave when they were writing about cognitive apprenticeships within communities of practice, but I agree). This paper might pair with this the (non-design) paper "Mapping the Cultural Landscape in Engineering Education," which is about what the engineering community's culture (and discourse) is -- what does it sound like, this conversation they are joining?
  • With A Little Help From Your Students: A New Model For Faculty Development and Online Course Design, a paper about learning how to teach (college-level) classes online by going through the process of designing one (as opposed to "here are skills-training workshops; now you are READY!") This is the story of bringing people into a certain sort of community of practice -- the group of "people who feel comfortable teaching online."

I want to look at the conversations that happen during the design process (especially the design of courses) and the inclusion-related effects they have -- the lens that takes the design process itself and uses it as a tool of empowerment (when did I start using words like "empowerment"?)

When people go through the design process and emerge with a creation that looks like "the stuff this community makes," they see themselves -- and other see them -- more as members of that community. (You made that pot? Welcome to the ceramics club! You baked that turkey? Hi, fellow cook!) There's no way to fake it, no way to excuse yourself via Impostor Syndrome. Susan Silbey kept telling our qualitative research methods class that "law is what lawyers do" -- and I turn that around, insert my chosen field, and say "engineers are those who engineer." And when it's undeniable that you have Done Engineering, then it's hard to deny that you could never ever ever be an engineer.

Hrm. I could probably summarize my teaching philosophy as "The Little Engine That Could: HOWTO."