Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica W. Tracey


Learning design is moving toward more human-centered design methodologies. One key component of human-centered design is empathy. To have empathy, designers must understand their learners as people and “how they show up as learners” within our learning experiences. To do this, designers need to do learner research. One way to do this inquiry work might be to take up post qualitative inquiry because so many of the key tenets of design thinking and post qualitative methodologies are similar.

Through interviews within a post qualitative framework, this project looks at how designers go about this design research to understand their learners. Several insights came out of this project, including two types of design inquiry and an understanding of how designers might make a shift in their design practices. The two types of design inquiry are content focused inquiry and learner focused inquiry. Designers using both of these approaches are thinking in post qualitative ways; however, they are thinking with different theories. The other key insight was that many of the designers interviewed experienced a Deleuzian event. This caused them to make a shift in how they think/practice design and inquiry. They were generally moving to a learner focused approach from a more content focused approach to design.

Design scholars and educators might look at how they can incorporate the basics of qualitative inquiry into their writing/teaching about design. This may help newer designers do better learner inquiry and design better learning experiences. There may also need to be a design inquiry methodology focused on post qualitative inquiry and centered around learning design to help move the field toward stronger learner inquiry.