Mission Statement

The College of Education and Integrative Studies is a learning community focused on meeting the present and future needs of students in our communities. We educate students to become highly qualified and significant leaders in our society. We are committed to the principles of diversity, ethics and social justice, and life-long learning. Central to our mission are innovative and integrative thinking, reflective practice, collaborative action, and learning by doing.

UCLA to House Design Based Learning Archives

Design Based Learning Archives


For over forty years, K-12 classroom teachers around the world have used Professor Doreen Nelson’s method of Design-Based Learning methodology to teach students critical thinking through hands-on projects with multiple solutions such as building a city, a village, a continent, a civilization, or a business.  The results have proven to significantly impact student test scores.

 Nelson studied to be a teacher at UCLA under the famous Corrine Seeds.  In 1959, while earning her teaching degree, she “practiced“ teaching at what is today called the UCLA LAB School Corinne A. Seeds Campus and was hired to begin her teaching career there.  This experience profoundly influenced the development of her Design-Based Learning methodology (formerly called City Building Education).

After ten years of teaching as a public school teacher she was frustrated with students’ lack of ability to retain information or to do higher-level thinking. She researched long-term retention and transfer of learning to find out what to do about it, but found little in the literature. She, unknowingly at the time, pioneered what is today an entire field of study called Design-Based Learning.  

Nelson came to Cal Poly Pomona to teach in the College of Environmental Design in 1986, but later moved to the College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS) at the request of former Cal Poly Pomona President Robert Suzuki. By 1995, Nelson had developed the Master of Arts Degree in Design-Based Learning for practicing K-12 classroom teachers. In 2010, Nelson added a certificate program for teachers not needing an MA Degree. Graduates of the Design-Based Learning program teach in regional school districts such as Pomona, Walnut, Azusa, Hacienda La Puente, Alhambra, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and many more.

To further the effort, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, has partnered with Cal Poly Pomona by hosting a variety of Design-Based Learning programs since 2000, most notably the intensive five-day Design-Based Learning Summer Institute for K-12 Teachers.

Nelson continues to look for ways to support her students in their educational pursuits. In 2013, she provided the first Doreen Gehry-Nelson scholarship for students in the CEIS Ed.D. Program. Ms. Leakana Nhem, a 2010 graduate of Design-Based Learning MA Degree program and a student in Cohort 1 of the Ed.D. Program, was the first to receive the $20,000 scholarship. Mr. Richard Rosa, a 2013 graduate of Design-Based Learning and a student in Cohort 2 of the Ed.D. Program, is the 2014 recipient of the Doreen Gehry-Nelson Scholarship. He will be officially recognized at the 2014 CEIS Commencement on June 14, 2014.

A milestone achievement for Doreen Nelson and Design-Based Learning occurred in March 2014 when the UCLA Library Special Collections acquired her archival materials representing the entire history of Design-Based Learning. The UCLA Library will house this archive next to her mentor’s papers, Corrine Seeds. The historical materials include an active website, 6,000 slides of K-12 classrooms taken by the Office of Ray and Charles Eames; films and books published by and about Nelson’s work in Design-Based Learning, assessment results, past projects, lesson plans, sample student work, and a chronology of the historic development of the Design-Based Learning field. Nelson was honored to have this archival collection to go to UCLA because that is where the ideas behind Design-Based Learning began. She wants her archival materials to provide a model for future teachers so they can develop their own programs using the Design-Based Learning methodology   UCLA plans to exhibit selected works from Nelson’s archives in the coming year.