Combining Role-Play and Design-Thinking Pedagogies: An Experiment in Interdisciplinary Problem-Solving

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This paper is a case study in the effectiveness of combining two pedagogies in developing problem-solving and innovation skills. It explores how a historical role-play pedagogy may be integrated with a contemporary design-thinking pedagogy through analysis of a collaborative experiment between cross-disciplinary faculty. Further, because the two pedagogies have their foundations in differing disciplines - the former emerging from the humanities fields, the latter oriented towards engineering and the social sciences - the study examines how diverse disciplinary tools can be synthesized in preparing students for real-world multi-faceted challenges.

The paper begins with analysing the strengths and weaknesses of role-play pedagogy in training empathy and problem-solving skills. It then examines the necessity and challenges of empathy training in the teaching of design thinking. Next, it shows how a three-year experiment in combining these pedagogies, in both online and f2f modes, yielded improved core-skills development for students. Finally, it contextualizes these findings by examining the significance of interdisciplinary teaching for contemporary problems. Through these steps, our experimental research demonstrates the potential of cross-discipline cross-pedagogy collaboration in a shifting global educational environment.


ConferenceConference for Higher Education Research (CHER) – Hong Kong 2022
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