Extracurricular Design-Based Learning: Preparing students for careers in innovation

Elizabeth M Gerber*, Jeanne Marie Olson, Rebecca L.D. Komarek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Government and industry depend on educational institutions to play a pivotal role in preparing the future workforce for careers in innovation. Yet students learn how to innovate through practice, and opportunities for practice are limited in higher education. This paper addresses this challenge by presenting a new student-led approach to innovation education called Extracurricular Design-Based Learning. This model allows students to practice innovating solutions to authentic, pro-social, and local challenges in an extracurricular setting. This paper provides an overview of the model and its implementation in Design for America at Northwestern University. Findings from surveys, daily diaries, interviews, and observations suggest that students build innovation self-efficacy through successful task completion, social persuasion, and vicarious learning in communities of practice with clients, peers, industry professionals, and faculty. Further, students report achievement in learning outcomes outlined by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-324
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2012


  • Design-Based Learning
  • Extracurricular
  • Innovation
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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