Design Thinking as a Pedagogical Tool for Writing Centers
Keywords:design thinking, writing centers, empathetic listening, ideation, critical observation, generative processes
Design and writing habits externalize a sense of process and are predicated on social interaction. As Stephen North suggests, the goal in teaching writing should be “the development of general patterns of thinking and writing” (1984, p. 435). These general patterns of thinking require “acts of discovery, the recursiveness of invention, the consciousness of experienced writers and designers of their own processes,” and more (Kostelnick, 1989, p. 278). However, surprisingly, the connection between design thinking and writing center praxis continues to be an underresearched and undertheorized area of study.
In its ideal form, a writing center offers a dedicated space to facilitate compositional production and generative interaction where students learn to compose through their own work. With a design thinking pedagogy for the writing center, peer consultants and student writers can partner to develop solution-based, iterative strategies to composing effective communications.
The Stanford d.school’s steps for design thinking align to consultants’ work with developing writers—and with developing writers’ approach to their own compositional process—in the writing center. I offer a framework for writing center consultations that puts into practice the design thinking process as a contextualized and structured, but human-based approach to the composing process.
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