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My inquiry eFolio for ETEC 533

  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah McLean

Learning for Use (LfU) is probably useful to my teaching practice...

I am beginning to re-develop a course and am embedding design thinking into the projects and the curriculum. It is not a small undertaking, but I am really excited about the potential for scientific inquiry. I did not expect this week's discussions about LfU to be as impactful as they were for my course design.

This week, we learned about LfU principles. Our prompt for the discussion was "Imagine how LfU principles might be applied to a topic you teach. Now switch out the My World technology. What other domain specific (and non-domain specific) software might help you achieve these principles while teaching this topic?

Take a look at my response below. Here, I have tried to marry some of the concepts of design thinking with that of LfU principles. I like the "practicality" and applicability aspect of both of these and think that this approach is something that my undergraduate students will enjoy.

The application and intentionality of the LfU design principles really resonated with me this week, and I think I could use its principles when I am re-designing a fourth-year course that I have. My fourth-year course evaluates the role of inflammation as both a beneficial and detrimental process in the human body, depending on the context. While there is a fair amount of “content” to be taught in this course, I am now much more interested in including design thinking and inquiry into this course. In particular, the LfU principle that I think makes the most sense for my practice is #2: “Knowledge construction is a goal-directed process that is guided by a combination of conscious and unconscious understanding goals.” (Edelson, 2001) One thing that I try to stress to my students in my courses is the application of their knowledge to real-world problems. I do this through a community-engaged learning course and would like to implement this idea in the other courses that I teach as well. In the “motivate” step of the LfU model, the idea is that students motivate to acquire certain skills or knowledge while the student is already relatively engaged (Edelson, 2001). I would like my students to do a design theory project based on a real-world issue encountered by individuals suffering from an inflammatory disease. With the motivate aspect, I could encourage the students to conduct interviews of patients with inflammatory disease and to understand the patient perspective. This may help motivate the students to more deeply understand the condition and be more motivated to understand the basic concepts of inflammation so that they can understand the disease. I also thought that perhaps students could reach out to patients through online support groups/forums, but I was not certain the best way to implement this- would I have students look on their own? Or would I pre-screen websites to identify what might make the most sense? The LfU approach as well as design thinking also solidify the concept that scientific knowledge is intrinsically a social practice. I think that the work from Radinsky and colleagues (2010) was great in how it highlighted the normal route of discourse for scientists, and how we can embed and use this as a way to guide scientific inquiry in our own practices. For my own work, I think I could potentially bring in external speakers to talk about their own approaches with working with interdisciplinary teams and using design thinking.

Edelson, D. C. (2001). Learning‐for‐use: A framework for the design of technology‐supported

inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science teaching, 38(3), 355-385.

Radinsky, J., Oliva, S., & Alamar, K. (2010). Camila, the earth, and the sun: Constructing an

idea as shared intellectual property. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(6),


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