Education and cognitive diversity: Assisting model for teaching about mental preferences

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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120 + 12
How can educators help their students learn about cognitive diversity? That is to say, how can they help their students learn and appreciate how they tend to work, think, see, or even communicate differently? Everybody’s way of thinking and interpreting the environment differs. Some happen to do things in more similar ways, while at the same time they often contradict the approach of some others, and so, it is clear that mental preferences vary between which of us. Today’s trends suggest that we need to learn how to work more productively with each other; trends such as increasing complexity in the challenges we are facing, arguably lead to the use of more diverse teams in organizations. Therefore, we need to understand each other more than before. However, in current education setting, very little consideration —if any— is being made to present students with issues of diversity in team settings. This can even be said for programs aiming to teach students better collaboration skills. This thesis is part of an ongoing research project that aims to improve our interactions by learning about cognitive diversity. Consequently, this particular thesis book contributes to assist those educators who want their students to understand how diverse they may tend to make decisions and think about things. The extensive literature review conducted to date has led to the researcher’s development of a model for thinking preferences based on established studies: including Herrmann’s “Whole Brain” theory and the “Human Dynamics” framework by the Seagal et al. The proposed visual model aims to assist educators in easing the learning process and acts as a tool that outlines the essential factors that students can independently use later on in order to identify the thinking preferences of others. This work also includes an empirical component, which has conducted in two parts, using three qualitative methodologies. In the first part, a number of Aalto University educators were interviewed to better understand their needs in teaching about diversity; so as to clarify that such a need actually exists. In the second part two experiments were conducted on several student groups; one experiment for testing the validity of the proposing model and another one for testing its functionality in practice.
Graff, Daniel
Thesis advisor
McGrory, Peter
Vartiainen, Matti
thinking diversity, mental preferences model, education, qualitative study, whole brain theory, human dynamics
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