Using Design Patterns as a Strategy for Capturing Generalizable Knowledge from Educational Interventions

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Friday Session


Kim Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Cailin Huyck Orr, Carleton College
A design pattern is a reusable solution to a problem that recurs repeatedly as people try to navigate through life. The concept began in architecture and has spread to many other fields. We think that the design pattern idea can be helpful in conceptualizing and articulating the nature of some of the higher-order contributions that are emergent from ambitious educational interventions, allowing them to be replicated. We offer two examples from the InTeGrate project, at two different levels of granularity.

At the level of instructional modules, a recurring challenge is the need to set up opportunities for students to learn from authentic data. We analyzed introductory level InTeGrate modules, and found six instructional sequences that different development teams used multiple times, across different content domains and data types. These include "Pooling Data to See the Big Picture," "Nested Data Sets," and "Make a Decision or Recommendation."

At the level of whole departments or programs, a recurring challenge is to attract and support diverse learners in Earth-related fields. A methodical effort to synthesize lessons learned across InTeGrate's sixteen example programs found recurring approaches to this challenge used by multiple teams across widely different institutional contexts. Two widely used approaches are "Demonstrate Cultural Relevance" and "Generate Community Involvement."

As illustrated by these examples, design patterns capture the broad strokes of approaches that have been used by skilled designers and tested in the real world for resonance with real users. They convey the essential features that lead to effectiveness, while encouraging adaptation to local circumstances. By conceptualizing these flexible, powerful, reusable approaches as "design patterns," we foreground what the different instantiations have in common and open the door to a discussion of what foundational cognitive and social processes are being leveraged by each pattern.