Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Mendoza


Undergraduate research, higher education, Dominican Republic, undergraduate research experiences, design research, interior design


Designers create social constructions (experiences and interactions) for human beings among themselves and with and within interior environments to enhance meaning in people´s lives (Poldma, 2011). Those social constructions are created through the design process developed by the interior designer; that process relies heavily on design research. Therefore, it is at the undergraduate level that the passion for research should start for interior design (ID) students. Faculty in ID programs need to encourage that passion by engage students in meaningful learning experiences such as how to ask questions about users, functions, activities, and aesthetics.

This study explored what types of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) faculty incorporate into the ID curriculum, and the perceptions of both students and faculty regarding the usefulness and educational impact of UREs. No previous studies have examined the issue of UREs within ID programs. There is no current knowledge regarding the degree to which current Dominican Republic (DR) ID faculty are providing their students with research experiences, nor information from students who are engaged in such UREs.

The themes provide details regarding an overall sense among faculty and students of the need for development of formal design research and implementation of strategies associated research in ID projects. The role of the university in supporting UREs, as well as the need for ID research leadership emphasize the importance of developing an adequate structure for research that empowers faculty to create meaningful research experiences for students. Faculty are considering ways to support the production of knowledge in a collaborative, team approach. UREs connected the students to the discipline itself, in their own words. Students are conscious that research helps design decisions, and research is different from the design process.

The internship, the opportunity of practice was the most relevant component of the program according to the students. They explained the internship grounded the design research. Internship represents the real life, the real world. The practice gave them confidence as future practitioners. The findings from this study can open and inform professional and academic practice of faculty regarding UREs provided for the students, concerning the impact of their instructions on research skills achievement. The future of the ID curriculum, as considered by students and their faculty in their interviews, rests on research as the way to develop a body of knowledge for the field, and in the creation of a Dominican identity.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access