The development of practice fields for rapid interdisciplinary design and entrepreneurial activity
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Professionals from business, science, technology, engineering, art, and math-related fields use design activities to solve the complex problems of modern society. As students, they need access to activities that provide the opportunity to engage in an authentic setting. Extracurricular experiences are useful for developing a practice field for students to participate in the types of activities they will encounter in a workplace. Rapid design activities are one type of extracurricular experience that fosters a community of innovation among students. As with any learning intervention, students in these practice fields need the proper framework to be successful. This dissertation explores the expansion of the community of innovation framework (West, 2009) to develop an informal rapid design practice field based on situated learning principles. An educational design research methodology was used to investigate how this framework can be used to develop a rapid design learning environment. Two iterative cycles of research, design, implementation, analysis, and redesign were conducted over a two-year period. The pilot study found that the practice field taught students design and entrepreneurship concepts that they would not have otherwise learned in their studies, altered their view of their own and other disciplines, and gave them the confidence to work on new and old business ideas after the event. The second study investigated in-depth the development of communities of innovation during a rapid design event. Three teams serve as case studies to report details on communities of innovation formation, development, and progression during rapid design events. The second study found that the event led participants through three phases of a community of innovation: community formation, project development, and project presentation and continuation. While participating in the community, students encountered many problems, including time constrains, technical challenges, loss of team members, and missing expertise. To overcome these challenges, teams often looked for help from members of the larger community, including mentors, instructors, and other teams. Overall, seven design principles and 21 implementation strategies were developed as a guide for practitioners to develop these environments with the goal of cultivating the necessary skillsets and mindsets for innovation.