M.Ed. and Ph.D. candidate in Learning Design and Technology, 2016 KCP Fellow
Alisa Hutchinson, M.Ed. is a Ph.D. candidate in Learning Design and Technology at Wayne State University and a design and writing consultant with experience in instructional design, graphic design, web design, and proposal writing for clients in healthcare, higher education, international development, and the corporate sector. She is a learning and web designer for a five-year R25 NIH Grant titled Integrated Course in Biology and Physics of Radiation Oncology and was the lead learning designer for a Michigan Department of Community Health and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Grant titled Prostate Cancer Survivorship Care: Development, Implementation and Evaluation of a continuing Medical Education Module for Primary Care Providers. She holds an M.Ed. in educational psychology from Wayne State and her research interests include interdisciplinary design, professional identity for designers, and learning design for higher education and continuing medical education. She is a 2016 recipient of the King-Chavez-Parks (KCP) Fellowship.
What do you enjoy most about Wayne State’s Detroit location?
I love that the Wayne State campus is situated right next to the Detroit Public Library and Detroit Institute of Arts; both are great spots for a study break. I am also a music fan, so the history of the area and proximity to great record stores are also big plusses!
What has been the most meaningful experience or area of growth as a graduate student?
I have been lucky to have an exceptional advisor, Dr. Monica Tracey, who has given me great research opportunities as well as encouragement to present and publish. In the fall of 2015, I was selected to present an early draft of my dissertation proposal at a conference for doctoral design students in Portugal. It was an incredible experience and definitely one of the highlights of my Ph.D. studies.
What’s been your most interesting insight or significant accomplishment in your research?
My research primarily focuses on cross-disciplinary design, design education, and professional identity for designers. My dissertation will focus on the role of emotion in idea generation among professional designers. While emotion is thought to have a powerful influence on creativity, there has been very little work that examines emotion and creativity in designers or other creative professionals as a component of their professional practice. I am also interested in emotion and higher-order cognition in general, as well as research on interdisciplinary work in design or other fields (such as team science).
What motivated you to pursue this field of study?
Learning Design & Technology allows me to integrate my previous educational background (I have a Master’s in Educational Psychology) with my prior professional experience as a writer and graphic designer. The doctoral program develops our skills both as researchers and as practitioners, which I really appreciate as it provides a great deal of career flexibility.
How has the KCP fellowship impacted your scholarship at WSU and your experience as a graduate student?
So far it has been not only an important source of financial support, but also a great opportunity to meet students from other parts of the university and develop skills that will better position me for a faculty position in the future.
What advice would you have for current or future PhD students at Wayne State?
My relationship with my advisor has been a critical piece of my success so far, so I would definitely encourage anyone considering a PhD program to research potential advisors. Also, having a love for research and developing a research agenda that you are passionate about will go a long way toward sustaining you during the tough stretches.
Interview by Christine Nyawaga