Promoting Design Thinking Through Knowledge Maps: A Case Study in Computer Games Design and Development Education

Carlo Fabricatore, Ximena Lopez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Modern computing is pervaded by human-centric technologies which potentiate people’s capabilities to address complex problems and needs in contextualised and meaningful ways. Creating such technologies requires thinking approaches that overcome the limitations of traditional paradigms that focus on specific aspects of human-computer interaction in well-defined problem contexts. Design thinking is an ill-defined problem-solving strategy which addresses this need through a systematic and iterative process that integrates exploration, ideation and testing of possible solutions based on the participation of stakeholders, and the investigation and accommodation of their often-conflicting needs. Developing design thinking in students is key to face the challenges of an ever-changing and increasingly complex world, and it is therefore crucial to have approaches and tools that can support educational endeavours aimed at this. In this chapter we describe the use of knowledge maps to promote design thinking for game design and development students. Knowledge maps are a variant of hierarchical concept maps created by domain experts to support learners’ knowledge construction processes. Game design knowledge maps were conceived to integrate and structure multidisciplinary knowledge regarding game systems, players, player engagement principles, and design and testing processes. Their structure was planned so that students could explore imparted knowledge iteratively and incrementally, driven by a human-centric focus. The evidence collected from students so far indicates that knowledge maps integrate large amounts of information in an easily accessible structure which fosters students' design thinking processes. The maps seem to support students in connecting themes and ideas, and guide them through the whole design thinking process. This suggests that properly structured imparted knowledge can be effective in helping students to learn “how” to think, not just “what” to think.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigher Education Computer Science
Subtitle of host publicationA Manual of Practical Approaches
EditorsJenny Carter, Michael O'Grady, Clive Rosen
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319985909
ISBN (Print)9783319985893
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2018


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