Date of Award

Spring 2-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning


Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine McGeehan

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Pfeiler-Wunder


A designer’s professional identity is constructed throughout a designer’s life and is developed through life experiences and education. While understanding the general importance of a professional identity is often clear to recent design graduates, developing it requires becoming self-aware of what traits constitutes designer professional identity (DPI). Kunrath, Cash and Yi-ling (2016) define DPI as the synthesis of personal attributes and design skills. However, the development of this full complement of DPI traits is often ignored and ill-supported in design education curriculum. A student’s DPI, if under-developed, can be a barrier to successfully transitioning from student to professional. Design educators have the opportunity to take the lead in developing a stronger sense of professional identity in their students. The primary purpose of the mixed methods study was to gain an understanding of how design educators can further develop a strong sense of DPI in university communication design students. The secondary purpose was to determine how CD students develop their sense of designer professional identity and what factors contribute to its development. The results of this study build upon the body of research surrounding design education and identifies areas that can improve the holistic development of students’ DPI.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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