Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2012

Summary of projects

Project title

Embedding Design Thinking methodology and practice into the RMIT Accounting curricula in Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam

Project leader

Dr Daryll Cahill

Project team

  • Mr Warwick Ponton
  • Mr David Knock
  • Ms Daniella Juric

Project summary

This project involved embedding contemporary research about and industry best practice of Design Thinking Methodology (DTM) into the curricula of the RMIT School of Accounting. To this end, the main project activity involved development, then implementation of DTM-focussed curricula (e.g. lecture material, project activities and assessment) into the final-year, undergraduate, compulsory accounting course, Strategic Decision Making for Accountants (SDM), offered in Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi).

Design Thinking is a problem-solving tool that offers a method for practical and innovative resolution of problems or issues. It has been defined as combining collaboration, systems thinking, and a balance of creative and analytical habits that forms a methodology for business to develop and implement strategies that satisfy customer requirements while still being profitable, viable, focussed and resource-lean.

Extensive stake-holder consultation was done to ensure support for and guidance concerning this initiative.

A trial of the initial DTM-focussed curricula occurred in Melbourne in 2012 semester 1. This trial was evaluated, and lead to revision of these curricula, which were then used in Melbourne and Singapore in 2012 semester 2. Further evaluation was undertaken, and the next iteration of these items was used in Vietnam in 2012 term 3.

In each location, a survey instrument was administered to students to evaluate their reactions to and perceptions of DTM-focussed curricula. Overall, most students were positive about the experience, and felt that they had developed skills and capabilities in problem-solving, effective team work, and strategic decision-making. Their understanding of the business environment and processes had improved and they believed they had enhanced their employability.

Outcomes

This project involved embedding contemporary research about and industry best practice of Design Thinking Methodology (DTM) into the curricula of the RMIT School of Accounting. To this end, the main project activity involved development, then implementation of DTM-focussed teaching and learning activities, assessment items and other curricula resources into the final-year, undergraduate, compulsory accounting course, Strategic Decision Making for Accountants (SDM), run in Melbourne, Singapore (in the RMIT accounting degree at Singapore Institute of Management) and Vietnam (in the RMIT accounting degree at RMIT’s Saigon South and Hanoi campuses).

To achieve this, across 2012, the project team:

  1. Undertook consultations with internal and external stake-holder in Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam that provided significant insight and guidance into the type and nature of DTM-focussed resources and activities to be developed.
  2. Built a pool of DTM-informed teaching teams as a result of holding collaborative discussions and workshops with the SDM teaching teams in Melbourne, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi. The workshops facilitated the development of DTM-focussed resources and activities.
  3. Developed and deployed DTM-focussed resources for and activities in Strategic Decision Making for Accountants (SDM), run in Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh city and Hanoi campuses). These items went through several iterations, based on staff and student evaluations.
  4. Presented on Business Education and Design Thinking at Future Unlimited: Transnational Education Fair, hosted by Australian Trade Commission, Singapore, 7-8 April 2012.
  5. Held a 2-day Design Thinking and Business Simulations workshop at RMIT Melbourne in November 2012, attended by RMIT staff from several schools, plus academics from other universities.
  6. Presented a paper on implementing design thinking into a transnational education program at the RMIT Accounting Educators Conference, November 2012.
  7. Have been invited to Shanghai Lixin University of Commerce to conduct in 2013 a workshop on the educational combination of design thinking for business and an online business simulation.
  8. Are currently preparing an application for OLT funding, based on extending this project’s activities.

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