ARL Projects

HCD in Higher Ed

The purpose of the projects within this division is to study how human-centered design can be integrated in existing higher education courses and the impact of that integration on students' learning processes and outcomes.

As learners work in their team on HCD activities, they engage in collaborative creativity, which in turn can influence their practice and development of creative agency. This project studies collaborative creativity to better understand how to plan and implement effective pedagogical strategies aimed at improving learners' engagement in collaborative creativity.

Empathy is key to HCD. This project aims to collect empirical evidence that shows that engaging learners in HCD activities can eventually help them develop social empathy, which can impact their performance in future workplaces.

Collaborators: Curtis Mason; Christopher Span; Joann Bandales; Elizabeth Coder; Dante Studamire; Ronald Threadgill; Ana Garner; Charles Terry; Lucero Garcia-Villegas 

During HCD projects, giving and receiving effective critique can impact the learners' experience and outcomes. This project examines how instructing learners on giving and receiving effective critique using LOFT - a platform that facilitates learners' engagement in critique, impacts the learners' progress on the project, their understanding of HCD processes, and their development of the metacognitive mindset.

Collaborators: Daniel Rees Lewis (Northwestern), Matthew Easterday 

Research shows that engaging learners in HCD activities helps them develop mindsets such as human-centeredness, collaboration, communication, creativity, experimentation, and metacognition. However, individual differences can play a role in how learners practice and develop the skills associated with each of these aforementioned mindsets. This project aims to assess learners' development of each of the six mindsets as they engage in HCD activities. It also examines how individual differences can hinder or facilitate this development.


The purpose of the projects within this division is to study how human-centered design can be used to engage STEM students in learning about STEM disciplines and developing 21st century mindsets.

HCD plays a critical role in engineering design. This project examines how the HCD processes manifest in an engineering class, and which activities can actually help engineering learners develop human-centeredness and communicative, collaborative mindsets.

Collaborators: Leon Leibenberg; Nattasit Dancholvichit; Blake Johnson; Yuting Chen; Christopher Schmitz 

Teaching through HCD is facilitating learning and applying disciplinary content as learners implement the HCD processes and tools. This project explores how to create learning opportunities for learners to learn and apply disciplinary content, such as food science or chemistry, as they complete an HCD project. It investigates the learning processes that learners implement as they collaborate in teams to learn science through design. It also captures the impact of these processes on learners' achievement and development of 21st century mindsets.

Collaborators: Dawn Bohn; Dana Dubinski; Rebecca Kowalski; Clare Jiang; Christine Atkinson (FSHN); David Bergandine (University Laboratory High School)  

HCD + Professional Development

The purpose of the projects within this division: to explore and understand instructors' experiences as they teach with, about, and through human-centered design, in order to design professional development that can prepare them to effectively integrate HCD in their teaching and courses.

Designing and implementing HCD activities is challenging. This project aims to understand the successes and challenges that instructors (Faculty and TAs) encountered when teaching about and through HCD in their courses in order to inform professional development and instructors' preparatory programs.

If you have any questions about the ARL's research projects, you can read more about Dr. Saad Shehab's work or contact him via email