Interventions, Ecologies, Reflections

Reframing Student Resistances with Design Thinking


  • Michael J. Healy Western Kentucky University
  • Jessi Thomsen Western Kentucky University


design thinking, reflection, wicked problems, collaboration, rhetorical ecologies


We argue that design thinking is particularly productive in technical and professional communication (TPC) classes when students leverage—rather than succumb to—the risk and uncertainty of the design process. To address possible resistances and to further support TPC students in inhabiting productive uncertainty, we suggest emphasizing and reframing three aspects of design thinking. First, we argue that design thinking orients students to strong interventions rather than the right solution. Shifting terminology to intervention potentially promotes the value of unknowing during the ideation phase and moves students toward a prototype without needing to be correct. Second, we suggest that this reorientation to intervention connects with design thinking’s human-centered design and builds students’ rhetorical awareness as an ecological understanding of situations, texts, and audiences. Third, we point to the role of reflection in design thinking and emphasize it as both iterative and materially entangled, rather than as a final step. To orient students to making interventions and building awareness of rhetorical ecologies, we position reflection as ongoing and embedded throughout the process.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Michael J. Healy, Western Kentucky University

Michael J. Healy is an instructor in the Department of English at Western Kentucky University where he teaches courses in professional writing and college composition. He received his PhD from Florida State University in 2021. His research focuses on feminist rhetorical historiography, invention and creativity, and the digital humanities.

Jessi Thomsen, Western Kentucky University

Jessi Thomsen, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Western Kentucky University where she teaches courses in professional and technical writing, editing and publishing, and writing in the disciplines. She also mentors students as the engage in undergraduate research and internships. She has previously published work in TETYC and English Journal, and her ongoing projects consider connections and complications across mentoring, student engagement, posthuman rhetorics, reflection in writing, and rhetorics of sustainability. All of her research and writing endeavors are supervised by her golden retriever.




How to Cite

Healy, M. J., & Thomsen, J. (2024). Interventions, Ecologies, Reflections: Reframing Student Resistances with Design Thinking. Programmatic Perspectives, 14(2). Retrieved from