Design for America faculty founder, Dr. Liz Gerber’s research investigates how people develop beliefs in their ability to innovate. She coined the term innovation self-efficacy, to describe this belief. People develop these beliefs through online and face to face social interactions. A designer and researcher by training, she uses research to inform the design of new technology to support these social interactions and to inform practice.
For the past six years, she has been researching and developing a new model of learning called Extracurricular Design-Based Learning (EDBL) which enables students to innovate solutions to authentic social challenges facing their local community in an extra-curricular setting. DFA was built on this model with the goal of creating a network of students confident in their ability to challenge the status quo and continuously innovate in their professions moving forward regardless of their career path. Through this work, Dr. Gerber is developing a validated measurement of innovation self-efficacy to be used to measure the impact of such interventions in academia and industry.
This research has resulted in DFA’s recent Digital Media and Learning Award sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla. This award was completed in collaboration with learning scientists and human computer interaction designers and will allow DFA to build a story sharing platform with a more granular understanding of expertise through the use of online badges. Collectively, this research will increase DFA’s measurement and evaluation data to more deeply understand innovation self-efficacy and informed design practice.
“DFA believes that confidence in one’s ability to innovate is among the most powerful attributes and necessary components to creating a better future.” - Dr. Liz Gerber
Design for America continuously seeks to apply academic rigor to its practice and methodologies to truly understand, prototype and evaluate best practices for developing leaders of innovation and creating impact through the implementation of DFA projects. DFA engages its network in conducting evaluative studies as well as case projects to develop new insights to DFA’s methodologies.
On this page, we’ll soon be adding research papers on DFA’s learning model, evaluative studies, as well as coursework as applied to various practices of DFA as an organization.We invite you and those in the DFA network to peruse these works as well as get involved through your own research or practice. If you are interested in applying your research to DFA, please contact DFA and Dr. Liz Gerber here.