Center for STEM Research

Informed Design


Informed Design follows the traditional design process, but uses guided research and investigation to build student knowledge and skills required for the design. These Knowledge and Skill Builders (KSBs) are the heart of the Informed Design process. They assist students in learning key concepts in mathematics, science and engineering/technology that are related to the design challenge.

The ABC's of Informed Design.
The ABC's of Informed Design provides a guide to constructing Informed Design Activities. It is illustrated with a revised version of the Drying by Design Activity.
Bedroom Design Curriculum


This is a middle school STEM project that reinforces key understandings in math and engineering/technology. The Bedroom Design Challenge includes all the KSBs and related material for students and teachers. The mathematical areas include measurement, ratio and proportion, geometric reasoning, and percents.

Bridge Design
Burghardt, M. David and Hacker, Michael, Informed Design: A Contemporary Approach to Design Pedagogy as the Core Process in Technology, The Technology Teacher, 64,1, September 2004.
This article in The Technology Teacher explains the Informed Design process and why it is an exciting new strategy for classroom instruction.
Drying by Design (revised)
This is an upper middle, lower high school, design activity that has strong mathematics and science connections. Teacher support material for the activity is included, including pre/post assessments.
Koch, Janice and Burghardt, M. David (2002). Design Technology in the Elementary School - A Study of Teacher Action Research. Journal of Technology Education. 13, 2.
This article describes the effect of using Informed Design strategies to improve the learning of all students. In particular, students targeted as low functioning show dramatic improvements in reasoning.
Pedagogical Basis of Informed Design
The Informed Design process was created as part of the National Science Foundation-funded NYSCATE grant. There are pedagogical strategies that can be employed to enhance the design process. The following link describes these strategies.
Redesigning a Mousetrap Car
Burghardt, Dave and Krowles, Christine, Mathematics by Design, Networks Online Journal for Teacher Research, June 2005.
This article describes an in-depth action research project using Informed Design to improve geometric understanding for low-performing fifth grade students.
Technology Education - Learning by Design
This middle school technology education textbook uses the Informed Design Process for its design challenge activities.
Work in Progress-Improving K-12 Mathematics Understanding with Engineering Design Projects
The informed design process was created as part of a NSF materials development program and formed the engineering design framework for this study. Structured mathematics activities (knowledge and skill builders - KSBs) were developed that linked to the design challenge. The paper will present preliminary results of the research which indicate a dramatic improvement in mathematical reasoning.

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