I am happy to announce that on 1 April 2021, I received my Senior University Teaching Qualification (SUTQ) from the University of Twente and four universities of technology in the Netherlands (4TU). I received this qualificiation with my educational research project in which I developed peer-testing approach to teach how to identify and evaluate the opportunities for designing meaningful experiences.
What is Senior Teaching University Qualification? (SUTQ)
The SUTQ offers teachers the opportunity to work on an educational innovation project of their own choice. Through conducting this project, the researcher develop competencies in using evidence-informed approaches in education, and in participating in a community of practice where ideas and experiences are shared with peers within and outside the university. More information about the SUTQ trajectory at University of Twente can be found here.
What was my SUTQ project about?
During my SUTQ process, I explored the necessity and challenges of teaching experience design in higher education. I hypothesized that peer-assessment could be a suitable method to achieve the goals of this project. To test my hypothesis, I explored the possibilities of peer-assessment to teach experience design evaluation.
By developing a peer-testing method, I addressed one of these challenges, teaching how to assess experience design. I applied this method in the Design and Meaning course of Industrial Design Engineering bachelors’ programme in two consecutive years (2019 and 2020).
What is peer-testing?
In peer-testing activity, students, working in groups undertake two roles: designer and assessor. The designer groups present their interactive prototypes to the assessor groups.
The assessor groups undertake the user role, in which they experience the interactive prototypes as if they were the users of the designed experiences. The assessor groups then assess the experience design and provide feedback to the designer groups, as if they were the experience design experts.
After the peer-testing, the assessor groups are asked to write detailed feedback about the experience design and provide evidence for the designer group’s assessment results.
To prepare the students for this activity, I employed peer-feedback and evaluation-preparation sessions during the course. In 2019, the peer-testing activity was possible to be held on campus. However, in 2020, due to the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak, peer-testing had to be moved to online platforms. Unluckily, this was right before the students finalised their product prototypes. I also reflected on this challenge in my report and extrapolated the possibilities for applying peer-testing in online platforms.
Results from both years showed that peer-testing could significantly contribute to the evaluation-related learning goals of experience design courses when the students were provided sufficient guidance.
My conclusion was that peer-testing could be a method for teaching experience design evaluation in higher education design courses.
Value of SUTQ
During SUTQ, I got a more profound knowledge of peer-assessment and peer-testing tools and learned and developed a peer-testing approach to assess experience design works. My end goal was to contribute to the body of knowledge in experience design. I learned in the process that my personality as a design researcher affects my perception of how an education designer and educational researcher should be.
I was not born as a designer, researcher, nor teacher. My experience as a “design researcher” is more than my experience as a “design teacher.” I know how to carry out design research, but it turns into a challenging task to teach design.
To address this challenge, I combined my design research knowledge with my research interests in teaching in higher education. Making the below table, I illustrate my teaching vision by comparing the key strengths of being a good teacher with a design researcher.
A design researcher should;
A good design teacher in higher education should;
Value the human-centred research.
Value student-centred learning and search for ways to empower students.
Be flexible about the circumstances of the research.
Be flexible about students’ needs and expectations.
Seek novel ways of conducting research
Seek new means of delivering teaching, be open to using novel technologies in education.
Do proper plans to conduct research fluently.
Do the planning of the course and the lectures so that the learning process will go smoothly.
Always stay up-to-date in terms of topics of design research.
Update the contents of the courses by following the developments in the design field.
Communicate research outcomes properly.
Listen to students and improve teaching by taking the student feedback into account.
The strengths that I listed in the table are parallel to what I see myself as a teacher and education researcher. Learning is a life-long process and cannot be achieved only in-class lectures. Lectures in high education are the basis of understanding, but those should not be regarded as the core of learning.
Every student is unique in their needs. That’s why the teachers in higher education should be flexible in mixing the learning modalities by seeking new means of delivering knowledge, such as virtual environments, live classrooms, feedback, and peer learning. I believe in student-based learning, which should be supported with the teacher’s flexibility and creativity. I acknowledge that the project-based learning notion of the University of Twente is a very effective way of learning in that sense. It involves the active involvement of students in their learning. This enables the students to gain knowledge and skills at the same time while learning at an academic level rather than mere training.
I carry out research on the topics that I enjoy reading and writing. It turned out that reading up about educational design and the “psychology of learner” is what I like to do more. I believe my expertise in experience design has now been strengthened with the lessons learned in my SUTQ. I am confident that my SUTQ report has several learning points for both myself and future design educators.
I will be happy to share my SUTQ report if you are interested!