Developing pragmatic learning principles through embedding Human-Centred Design

Author: Steve Ellwood

Developing pragmatic learning principles through embedding Human-Centred Design

Steve Ellwood
15 October 2018


Ellwood, S. (2018). Developing pragmatic learning principles through embedding Human-Centred Design. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand). [15.025 MB]

Executive Summary

The purpose of this academic enquiry is to map and reflect on my personal journey through a shift in professional practice. I have considered alternate pedagogical methodologies for learning and teaching within Culinary Arts and through the implementation of a blended educational approach was able to travel between a positivist philosophy where reason and logic form the source of knowledge along a continuum where interpretivism allowed learners and their facilitators to interpret their own actions. These approaches, at their core, were a blend of pragmatism and human‐centred design and were able to yield creative solutions to culinary design problems. These solutions were achieved through an iterative process based on comment and feedback from its end users ‐ the consumers of the food and food‐based experiences. The realisation that implementing more than one mode or method of learning benefits both learning and teaching and brings both facilitators and learners closer to critically explore solutions to any problem. I started my Master’s in Professional Practice midway through March 2017. Through research, co‐operation from everyone involved and reflection both in and on practice, this Master’s project has taken several twists and turns to the original thinking and question. I have drawn inspiration for my Master’s research from within my community of practice, namely the Bachelor of Culinary Arts program, and specifically from its facilitators and lecturers who continue to push boundaries and question the entrenched canon of supposed culinary and educational doctrine.

This work will shine a light on a personal shift in practice from a solely behaviourist pedagogy, through my own Master and Apprentice model of practice and training, through to one that takes a blended approach to include both the structured behaviourist practice and the more constructivist technique where each learner constructs their own meaning differently based upon their own experiences. I believe employing a ‘human‐centred design’ (HCD) approach will allow me to achieve this blended educational delivery as HDC gives structure through mapping process while allowing each student to create their own empathetic view of the problem or issue needing resolution. This has put me in the position that I put my learners into every day... ‘don’t go to the end’ or don’t limit yourself by only considering possibilities from your own experience. Through not solely relying on my tacit knowledge or previous practice to complete a task but trusting another process (through new learning) I envisage will lead me to a positive result. For me this process is a little outside my comfort zone as I see myself as a pragmatic person who relies on my past experience to achieve, likes and works well in a structured outlined environment with rules, deadlines and set goals.

From what I have observed and participated in within our institute this personal shift in practice, although new and a little unnerving, I believe will add effectiveness to my teaching and valuable new learning for my students (Figures 1 and 2). It will result in developing pragmatic learning principles through embedding human centred design. In the next section I introduce myself, my values and beliefs and how I came to be where I am today.

Keywords: Human-Centred, pragmatic, project-based, pedagogy, learning canon, Culinary Arts

Steve Ellwood's Academic Facilitator was Trish Franklin and his Academic Mentor Dr. Jo Kirkwood.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.