This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Maximizing Collaborative Problem Solving within Higher Education Design Studios with a Minimal Open Floor Plan




Evans, Marise

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


Past research has determined a number of new teaching methods which enhance student learning. Yet most of this research revolves around course content and teaching techniques rather than modification of the environment in which the students are learning. Changes in the learning environment have been slow to develop due, in large part, to budgetary constraints. Many departments on campus find themselves teaching in cramped classrooms built and furnished thirty years ago or more. Schools are often faced with the debate of new construction versus retrofitting of the present facilities to meet the needs of their students. Within creative majors, industrial design is no exception to the enormous surge of technological advances. In a major where drafting tables, stools and T-squares have been used for years, the computer has become the tool of choice. Detailed hand drawings have been replaced with quick sketches that translate easily into exquisite software programs allowing students to create near flawless and realistic models of their concepts. Creative curriculums that presently require stationary individual workstations are now in need of flexible collaborative spaces where students can interact as a team. By requiring students to work together on projects, design education aligns itself with the design process utilized in the workplace which ultimately will transition industrial design students smoothly into the work force. A lack of funding is the main deterrent to updating and integrating the latest technological advances into classrooms on most university campuses both public and private. So, how can universities save space, time and money to create a quality technologically enhanced educational environment? This thesis will address one method for retrofitting furnishings to educational design studios with minimal square footage in order to maximize collaborative problem solving skills and better accommodate emerging computerized technology. Creative curriculums that once required individual static workstations now require more flexibility and collaborative spaces so students can better interact with one another. By requiring students to work together on projects, design education models itself closely after the design processes employed in the workplace. The reasons for this seem to be two-fold: to better prepare young professionals in adjusting to their future workplace and to maximize the productivity for the employer by minimizing the learning curve of a new employee.