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Paul Tharlie Skaggs, IDSA

Professor, Brigham Young University

Paul Tharlie Skaggs, IDSA

Paul joined academia after twenty-two years of experience in new product design and development. For the last twenty years he has worked as a professor of Industrial Design at Brigham Young University. He developed and has taught a Structured Creativity and developed and facilitated the design thinking boot camp in both the academic and corporate environments. His research interest is in the area of "designer thinking" including the three cognitive modes of creative, visual and adaptive thinking. He is the recipient of the Abell Innovation Professorship at Brigham Young University.

Collaboration at the Uncertainty Boundary

Education Symposium

Rapid Fire Group C

August 25, 2023

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Breakout - Shubert

The uncertainty boundary is the space between what a learner can do without help and where the learner needs significant coaching. It is at the edge of where a learner can succeed only with mentored guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers—in other words someone who has a broader knowledge, experience, or skill set. This kind of support is an important touchpoint in learning. This touchpoint is important because too soon relieves the struggle so important to learning but to late causes frustration that in counterproductive to learning. The learner’s uncertainty boundary is expanded, and touchpoints are moved to the edge of the new learning frontier. Giving learners the most rigorous tasks, they can do with minimal intervention leads to the greatest learning gains.

This paper discusses the uncertainty boundary in terms of a collaborative design project where collaborative mentors use a student-created artefact to pull a learner to a series of “need to know” places--places that indicate the edge of the learner’s independent ability. The successful completion of the artefact requires the learner to connect with several collaborators, courses, and disciplines, each with specific knowledge, experience, tools, and/or skillsets. These collaborative mentors combine to provide the experience the learners need to complete the artefact in an efficient and uninterrupted path. We further discuss the advantages of extending this “need to know” impetus across course boundaries in a collaborative teaching environment and the struggles of implementing a more complex collaborative design project.

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