Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art Education


Art Education

First Advisor

David E. Burton, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Pamela G. Taylor, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Robin Vande Zande, Ph.D.


In this thesis, I propose a team-based design curriculum that aligns with the cognitive development of middle school age students. The ability to think abstractly develops at a specific time in development, according to widely accepted cognitive theory. The middle school years are the launching pad of abstract thinking. At this age, students are also primed for learning through social activity. The design process often includes abstract problem solving challenges, and working within a team structure. These ideas build a foundation for a research question—could a team-based design curriculum in middle school strengthen students’ natural cognitive development by providing opportunities for adaptations through experiential learning? In this thesis, I propose a team-based design curriculum for middle school students, which follows a trajectory of concrete to abstract challenges, complementing the natural cognitive transition of this age.


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