Lachheb wins dissertation award

IU School of Education alum Ahmed Lachheb has won the University Graduate School Distinguished Ph.D. Dissertation Award in the Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering category for 2022. This is the highest honor for research that Indiana University bestows upon graduate students. Lachhed graduated in August 2020 with a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology and a Minor in Human-Computer Interaction and Design.

“I feel proud, humble, and grateful for this recognition,” said Lachheb. “I’ve been honored to receive other national research awards in the past, but this one award tops them all.”

Lachheb’s dissertation, Design Failure in Instructional Design Practice: Practitioners’ Perspective, identifies that the stories we hear the least, are actually the stories we need to hear the most. The dissertation investigated the phenomenon of design failure in professional instructional/learning design practice from the designers' perspective.

I feel proud, humble, and grateful for this recognition. I’ve been honored to receive other national research awards in the past, but this one award tops them all.

Ahmed Lachheb

“Through analyzing their stories,” said Lachheb, “I was able to come to a rich understanding of the phenomenon, by highlighting the multiple ways design failure could be defined, and to what it could be attributed.” Because of the lack of explicit attention to this topic and the absence of theoretical work that approaches this topic, he drew upon literature and theories from other design disciplines—architecture and engineering design disciplines. The design theory generated is applicable to other design disciplines and professions because of its holistic nature.

“Ahmed conducted detailed and in-depth interviews that delved into the respondents' practice, providing an extensive body of original data for his analysis,” said Professor Elizabeth Boling. “His critical analysis of the data, and respect for the voices of practitioners mark this study as consistent with our best aspirational standards for this form of research, and outstanding in the degree to which it reaches that standard.”

The award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship, is given to two Ph.D. dissertations in two categories that demonstrate originality, documentation, significance, accuracy, organization and style.

Lachheb is currently working as a Learning Experience Designer (LXD) in the University of Michigan's Center for Academic Innovation where he uses his design and scholarly expertise to design learner-centered learning experiences for diverse audiences of global learners. “Central to my design work is a commitment to employing rigorous design methods,” said Lachheb. “I learned at IU to create designs that value both diversity and inclusiveness. My design work is inspired by design precedents from different design disciplines, such as architecture and human-computer interaction, and informed by general design theories, learning theories, and instructional design theories. His current research focus is research on and for design practice, where he studies designers’ design knowledge, design theory, and design pedagogy.