Dear K-12 Art Educators


Dear NAEA K-12 Art Educators,

We are very excited to share that the Industrial Designers Society of America and Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed., principal of Tailored Learning Tools, have established a collaborative partnership with the National Art Education Association (NAEA). The goal of the partnership is to create direct links between IDSA Design Learning Challenge 2012, college art and design students, and NAEA K-12 art educators and their students. Dr. Robin Vande Zande, associate professor and coordinator of art education at Kent State University School of Art, has graciously agreed to act as our key connection through her role as the chair of NAEA’s Design Issues Group. 


The primary purpose of the IDSA Design Learning Challenge 2012 is to expose young students to design thinking and create an active awareness of the discipline of industrial design before students leave high school. Regardless of career choice, the potential life skills gained by understanding the design process offers value. 


The focus of this year’s challenge is anchored in a recent survey regarding the discovery process of the discipline of industrial design. We captured the voice of 250 practitioners, students and educators regarding how and when they realized industrial design was the discipline for them. Most telling of our findings revealed insight into how and when students discovered the discipline. Data indicates 40 percent of the respondents knew of the discipline prior to high school graduation, whereas 40 percent did not discover the field until they had been enrolled in higher education for at least 1-3 years. Of those who were aware prior to high school graduation, 46 percent reported to have been motivated (in respective order) by a relative, art teacher, friend or school counselor. 

Pedagogy  |  Three Submission Categories to Choose From

Embracing a Learn.Think.Do approach, each team will focus on one of three categories: Design Day Event, Targeted Design Project or Industrial Design Awareness Campaign. The Learn.Think.Do approach is anchored in the best practices of design thinking, 21st century learning skills, effective instructional flow, action research, project based learning, the human condition, and engaging today's students.

  • Design Day Events focus on a meaningful and relevant single design day happening
  • Targeted Design Projects link to areas of high interest for design and art students, as well as teachers
  • Industrial Design Awareness Campaigns aim at creating a greater awareness of the discipline


The K-12 art students will be part of a design team to be led by 2-4 higher education art and design students. The art and design students will be mentored by a local college educator or practicing professional and encouraged to collaborate with complementary disciplines such as education or business. Prior to engaging with the younger art students, the art and design students will propose a lesson plan to the art educator for feedback, refinement, and approval. The art educator and team will agree upon one category that best support the learning needs of all involved. Sets of specific issues and problems will be defined for the art students to brainstorm and select from within the category.

As part of the submission process, art and design teams will tell the contextual story of their experiences with the art students supported by a beginning, middle, and end. The 2012 Submission Guidelines provide a systematic, yet flexible, action research framework for the art and design students to follow as they conduct, analyze, represent and submit their final design learning study report. The scale, speed, and scope of the study will be determined by the availability of stakeholders involved, with careful attention to the needs of the art educator and students. For example, such important items will be determined based on context:

  • Can the project be integrated into an existing lesson plan or unit of study?
  • What activities will art students be involved in?
  • How will art and design students pair up?
  • What length of time will be required for art educators and students to complete the project?
  • When will the project begin and end?

Using a participatory approach such as described below, art and design teams and K-12 students will co-create their learning experiences and outcomes. Throughout the learning experience, design and art students will practice critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation skills as linked to local visual arts learning standards. 

  1. Guided by the art and design students, K-12 students brainstorm issues or problems of interest.
  2. Using a socratic approach, students select one specific issue or problem in which to focus.
  3. Based on desired outcomes, students use design thinking to imagine the future - what it takes to get there.
  4. Students collaborate to identify, collect, analyze relevant data, and make sense of what they found.
  5. Based on data findings, students develop and implement a plan of action, i.e. Design Day Event, etc.
  6. Students determine an effective method to evaluate the impact and/or effectiveness of implementation.
  7. To wrap up the process, students assess their learning outcomes and consider new questions as a result.
To participate, simply send an email message and I will be more than happy to facilitate a direct connection to a art and design student team in your local area. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time. It is with deep appreciation to have this opportunity to collaborate with you and your students. As result of your investment in this project, given sponsorship involvement, it is our intent that your class will receive an in-kind donation of intrinsic value. Your input regarding your needs would be greatly appreciated.

Doris Wells-Papanek, M.Ed., IDSA