Design-Based Learning

"Master the Art of Teaching"

In partnership with Cal Poly Pomona and the Art Center College of Design: Earn an MA (45 Units) or Certificate (20 Units) in Design-Based Learning Curriculum & Instruction, Elementary & Secondary awarded through Cal Poly Pomona.

Design-Based Learning is a highly researched, project-based and standards-based methodology. It provides tools and techniques for teaching students basic skills and knowledge from any subject so that they learn how to think critically at the highest level - to invent, extrapolate, adapt and transform information - to gain deeper understanding of subject matter. These techniques promote language acquisition, oral language development and enriched learning experiences for all students.

design-based learning

Begins Summer 2016: July 20, 21, 22, 25 and 26

Enroll in the first course – The five-day Design-Based Learning Summer Institute for K-12 Teachers at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena:

  • The institute is the first course in the M.A. or the Certificate Program in Design-Based Learning and transfers directly to Cal Poly Pomona
  • Scholarships are available at Art Center for this course only
  • Seasoned Professionals can take advantage of the Age 60+ Fee Waiver Program for the courses at Cal Poly Pomona with no application fee and no tuition

The Doreen Gehry Nelson method of Design-Based Learning for K-12 teachers integrates creative thinking into all subjects of the K-12 curriculum through guided lessons organized around essential questions to meet the demands of the four "C's" of Common Core learning:

Creativity, critical thinking and communication & collaboration.

Program Benefits:

  • Classes meet one night a week
  • MA degree is two years and a certificate is one year
  • Use your own classroom for coursework then write it up
  • Final MA project is a curriculum guide developed throughout the courses
  • No design, technology skills or special materials needed
  • No GRE, no examinations in core classes, no textbooks or parking fees

Design-Based Learning Background:

The Design-Based Learning program for K-12 teachers in Curriculum and Instruction began in 1995. Developed and directed by Doreen Gehry Nelson, a professor both at Cal Poly Pomona and at Art Center College of Design, the program provides training for teachers in:

  • Developing language skills for English Language Learners
  • Identifying and utilizing the power of the spatial domain as a catalyst for promoting higher-level thinking skills
  • Using creative processes and scientific experimentation to teach students to observe, analyze, critique and modify
  • Instructing students to work alone, to learn to communicate as they experience active citizenship and democratic decision-making
  • Achieving a student-centered classroom environment to develop high self-esteem and student accountability
  • Providing a simulated context for learning (a city, a village, a business, a continent or a civilization) that is curriculum driven
  • Developing effective assessment tools

Now accepting applications! 

To enroll in this years program go to the Art Center College of Design.

To find out more about the program visit the DBL Program page or visit the Design-Based Learning website.


I. Degree Program Courses — 20 Units

Course Course Title Units
GED 540 Intro to Design-Based Learning 4 units
GED 541 Design-Based Learning as a Process 4 units
GED 547 Making Curriculum Physical 4 units
GED 548 The Classroom as a Microworld 4 units
GED 549 Developing Curriculum Presentations with Technology 4 units

II. Complementary Study Courses — 4 units

Course Course Title Units
GED 522/A Instructional Strategies for Language & Literacy Field Sites 2/2 units
GED 550 Seminar in Educational Issues 4 units
GED 599 Special Topics for Graduate Students 4 units
GED 650 Seminar in Current Problems & Strategies in Education 4 units

III. Complete ALL of the following Core Research Courses — 16 units

Course Course Title Units
GED 532 Tests, Measurements, and Evaluations 4 units
GED 690 Seminar in Educational Research 4 units
GED 693 Conducting Educational Research 4 units
GED 691 Directed Study 4 units

IV. Choose one of the following to complete your MA program

Course Course Title Units
GED 695 Project 6 units

For more information contact:

Professor Doreen Gehry Nelson

(310) 387-8261