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About

Introductions Are In Order

I am an Associate Professor of Communication Design and Graduate Director of the MFA in Experience Design at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I research ways people and design decisions intersect at experiential and systemic levels. My recent work explores how co-creating end-of-life choices with stakeholders can facilitate meaningful decision-making resources and tools; ways multiple intelligence theories can be applied to facilitate learning necessary for addressing complex problems; and how rhetoric and semantics in design affect aspirations and goals. I am a Scripps Gerontology Center Research Fellow, and my current research work is a transdisciplinary research project titled Living Values that focuses on end-of-life choices and advance care planning for underserved populations in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Prior to my academic appointment, I practiced design professionally for fifteen years as a creative director, graphic, interaction, and experience designer at agencies, in-house, and non-profit organizations in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area.

I enjoy playing disc golf, backgammon, and going to big concerts in small venues.

Curriculum Vitae

Education

2013

MFA in Design–Innovation Studies

University of North Texas

Thesis: Where’s the Design in Design Research?
Advisers: Michael Gibson and Keith Owens

1998

BFA in Design Communication

Texas Tech University
1998

BA in English–Creative Writing

Texas Tech University

Professional Experience

2021–Present

Associate Professor of Communication Design

Department of Art, Miami University
2013–2021

Assistant Professor of Communication Design

Department of Art, Miami University
2013–2016

Affiliate Faculty, Armstrong Interactive Media Studies (AIMS)

Miami University
2000–2013

Creative Director

Dennis Cheatham Design

Lake Dallas, Texas
2008–2013

Creative Director, Director of Electronic Media

Irving, Texas
2007–2008

Senior Art Director

Dallas, Texas
2000–2007

Graphic Designer and Art Director

Irving Bible Church

Irving, Texas
1999–2000

Writer, Customer Relations

Dallas, Texas
1998–1999

Graphic Designer

Dallas, Texas

Roles

2016–Present

Research Fellow, Scripps Gerontology Center

Miami University
2015–Present

Graduate Director, MFA in Experience Design

Department of Art, Miami University
2015–Present
Department of Art, Miami University
2014–2015

Alumni Teaching Scholar

Center for Teaching Excellence

Miami University

Research

Book Chapters

2019

Rewarding Risk: Exploring How to Encourage Learning that Comes from Taking Risks.

In Re: Research, Volume 1: Teaching and Learning Design, edited by G. Muratovski & C. Vogel, Intellect Books & Journals, Bristol, United Kingdom publisher.

Journal Publications

2017

Cheatham, D. M. (2017). Experience Design: Embracing Transdisciplinarity. Iterations: Design Research and Practice Review, 1(5), 22-27.

Conference Proceedings

2019

Cheatham, D. M. (2017, October 31-November 3). Rewarding Risk: Exploring How to Encourage Learning that Comes from Taking Risks. Proceedings from IASDR 2017: Re: Research, Cincinnati, Ohio.

2015

Cheatham, D. M. (2015, November 19-22). Learning to Fail: How to Make Failing Part of Learning. Proceedings from Lilly Conference on College Teaching, Oxford, Ohio.

Conference Presentations

2020

Beyond UX: Designing for Complete Experiences

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (held online), November 12–14, 2020
2019

Learning Ethics Firsthand Through Design Research Methods

SECAC 2019 Conference

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 16–19, 2019
2019

Living Values: Researching and Designing End-of-Life Decision-Making with People who are Marginalized

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 23–25, 2019
2018

Transdisciplinary, Translocation, Transmedia: Designing Graduate-Level Distance-Learning
in Experience Design

York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, September 20–22, 2018
2018

Breaking Down Barriers to End-of-Life Conversations and Planning in Greater
Cincinnati Appalachian Communities

Cincinnati, Ohio, April 4–7, 2018

with Living Values research team, Dr. Jennifer Heston and Dr. Catherine Sherron

2017

Science Rules: Why Design Research Needs Scientific Research Classifications

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, March 11, 2017
2017

Rewarding Risk: Exploring How to Encourage Learning that Comes from Risking Failure

University of Cincinnati, DAAP, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 31-November 3, 2017
2016

Integrating Experience-Focused Design Education: Beyond DIV Tags, Dropdowns, and Devices

Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, June 14–16, 2016
2015

Research Your Way Into Users’ Hearts

HOW Interactive Design Conference

San Francisco, California, September 20–22, 2015
2014

Designers as Users: Switching Roles to Teach Critical Thinking in Design Education

Portland, Oregon, September 11-14, 2014
2014

A Necessary Shift: Engaging Coding In Graphic Design Education

PICA Conference, Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, Alberta North Chapter

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, May 7-9, 2014

Invited Presentations

2020

Experience Design: A Primer – Workshop

Seton Hall University, Web Design II course

Online presentation, April 21, 2020
2020

Design Incubation

March 25, 2020

Panelist. Online panel discussion for design educators
Event available on YouTube

2020

Art Talk: Beyond UX: Designing Complete Experiences

George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon, February 2–4, 2020
2019

Beyond UX: Designing Complete Experiences

Cincinnati, Ohio, September 24, 2019
2018

Designing Tools for Good (Research) Workshop

University of Dayton Graphic Design students

Dayton, Ohio, November 8, 2018
2017

What’s Trending in Design?

Learning In Retirement Program

The Knolls, Oxford, Ohio
2016

Cincinnati Design Week: AIGA and IxDA

Cincinnati, Ohio
2016

Most Likely to Succeed: Project-Based Learning Film and Panel

Miami University College of Education, Health & Society with McGuffey Montessori School

Miami University
2015

Facing the Blank Canvas: How to Start Designing

AIGA Cincinnati Student Engagement Design Forum

Cincinnati, Ohio
2015

Discovery Cafe: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Miami University Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship (OARS)

King Library, Miami University

2015

Design is Not About Design, It’s About People

Contemporary Art Forum

Miami University, Department of Art

Fellowships

2021

Fellowship Program, Book Authoring Track

Online, June 3–5, 2021
2015

Learning to Fail: How to Make Failing Part of Learning

35th Annual Lilly Conference on College Teaching

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, November 18-22, 2015

Plenary Speaker

Selected Research Projects

2015–Present

Researching and Designing Meaningful End-of-Life Decisions

with Jennifer Heston (Miami University), Cate Sherron (Thomas More University), Kim Ogle (Miami University)

2014-2015

Rewarding Risk: Exploring How to Encourage Learning that Comes from Risking Failure

2012-2013

Researching the Barriers Between Men and Mental Health Care

2012

Water Conservation Can Be Fashionable: An Attitudinal Approach to Reducing Water Overuse in the United States

with Rebeca Carranza, Holly Cole, John Hicks, Jeff Joiner, Michelle Keefer, Tim Woodring, XuHao Yang

2012

The City of Owasso Character Initiative

with John Hicks, Michelle Keefer and XuHao Yang 

2011

Evaluating the Dynamics, Processes, and Culture of the Cook Children’s Medical Center Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Fort Worth, Texas

supporting Professors Michael Gibson and Keith Owens

2011

Extending Family Education via Electronic Media

supporting Professors Michael Gibson and Keith Owens

2010

Improving Student Success: Researching How Students Use Electronic Library Resources

with University of North Texas Anthropology Masters’ Candidates and Dr. Lisa Henry

2010

Small Business Behaviors and Attitudes

with University of North Texas Anthropology Masters’ Candidates and Dr. Susan Squires

Awards

2013

2nd Place Award in Social and Behavioral Sciences Category

University of North Texas Graduate Exhibition

Water Conservation Can Be Fashionable: An Attitudinal Approach to Reducing Water Overuse in the United States

2011

Bronze Medal

Dallas Society of Visual Communications Dallas Show

The Great Map of Christmas Songs for Chatter Magazine

2008

American Graphic Design Award

Graphic Design USA

Innovate Magazine, Fall/Winter 2007, HKS Architects

2008

American Graphic Design Award

Graphic Design USA

Mexico 5 Invitation, HKS Architects

Professional Membership

2018–Present

The Design Society

2011–Present

Design Research Society

2010–Present

AIGA, the professional association for design

2011–Present

Interaction Design Association (IxDA)

1998–2013

Dallas Society of Visual Communications

Teaching

Graduate Courses

2017-Present

ART 627

Design Research Methods

Hybrid

Study of primary and secondary research methods including interviews, observations, and focus groups. Research ethics, data analysis, and evidence-based design are covered.

2018-Present

ART 650

Experience Design Studio (Setting)

Hybrid

Explores ways aspects of environment and things out of a designer’s control can affect peoples’ experiences when they use products, services, and systems. Outcomes integrate media and include products, services, and systems. Includes four travel days to different U.S. locations for on-site learning.

2017, 2020

ART 623

Writing for Design Audiences

Online

Develops writing skills for academic publishing, grant writing, UX writing, virtual assistants, and popular media outlets.

2018-Present

ART 650

Experience Design Studio (Meaning-Making)

Hybrid

Explores ways aspects of a person’s relationships and attitudes affect their experience when using products, services, and systems. Outcomes integrate media and include products, services, and systems. Includes four travel days to different U.S. locations for on-site learning.

2018-Present

ART 650

Experience Design Studio (Storytelling)

Hybrid

Explores ways aspects of a person’s mental and physical makeup affect their experience when using products, services, and systems. Outcomes integrate media and include products, services, and systems. Includes four travel days to different U.S. locations for on-site learning.

2018-Present

ART 650

Experience Design Studio (Interaction)

Hybrid

Explores ways aspects products, services, and systems—the ways they are designed—affect peoples’ expereince when using design. Outcomes integrate media and include products, services, and systems. Includes four travel days to different U.S. locations for on-site learning.

2021

ART 626

Designing for Access

Online

Approaches goal formulation and problem definition for experience-centered design with usability and access as primary drivers. Projects develop sensitivity to different needs, cultural and lifestyle diversity, socioeconomic status, literacy, globalization, sustainability, and other aspects of design when it impacts people of diverse needs. Particularly focuses on developing innovative interventions that enable access for marginalized people groups who have not been equitably served by design.

2017-2020

ART 700

Experience Design Thesis

Online

Cohort-based course that covers development of research topics, research design, human subjects research review (IRB), intervention design, testing, and dissemination. Students develop their own year-long projects and take this course at least twice.

2019

ART 626

Methods of Dissemination

Online

Develops skills for visualizing and communicating complex information to initiated and uninitiated audiences. Message framing, publication design, diagramming, and presentation skills are addressed.

2016-2018

ART 640

Experience Design Internship

Online

Students secure and complete an internship. Employers complete two evaluations of student performance and the coordinator evaluates this feedback to determine if students earn credit.

2018

ART 625

Systemic Design

Online

Explores design impacts at personal and societal levels through study of systems design, social networks, and object oriented ontology.

2018

ART 436/536

Applied Experience Design: Walt Disney World

Study Away + Online

Online study introduces designing for multi-sensory experiences through a study of theme park design. Includes one week at the Walt Disney World Resort where students document products, services, and systems to learn design’s potential for facilitating usability, accessibility, and delight.

2017

ART 455/555

A History of Design

Online

A survey of design that emphasizes the interplay between designed outcomes and society.

2017

ART 460/560

Special Topics Design Studio

Hybrid

Course topics change based on instructor’s research agenda. Reading and project work for this course emphasized the role of empathy in design.

2015-2016

ART 651

Systems Design

Face-to-Face

Explores design’s impact on experiences through a design studies lens. Topics include phenomenology, epistemology, rhetoric, as well as behavioral, communication, and
systems theories.

Undergraduate Courses

2018-Present

ART 248

Design Research Methods Basics

Hybrid

Introduction to primary and secondary research methods including interviews, observations, and focus groups. Research ethics, data analysis, and evidence-based design.

2021

ART 354

Design for Use

Online

Explores how design decisions impact access for people of diverse abilities and cultures. Applies people-driven design approaches for problem definition, outcome development, and design outcome production. Special attention paid to usability, access, and how design can delight audiences while meeting their unique needs. Involves collaborative and individual project work to simulate human-centered approaches within professional design practice.

2014-2018

ART 340

Communication Design Internship

Online

Students secure and complete an internship. Employers complete two evaluations of student performance and the coordinator evaluates this feedback to determine if students earn credit.

2013-2015

ART 355

Applied Interaction Design

Face-to-face

Introduces advanced human-centered design processes that emphasize usability. Covers UX wireframing, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP for WordPress template development.

2015

ART 452

Senior Degree Project

Face-to-face

Students develop their own semester-long projects. Covers development of topics,
research design, human subjects research review (IRB), intervention design, testing,
and dissemination.

2014-2015

ART 254

Fundamentals of Interaction Design

Face-to-face

An introduction to usability in screen-based design. Emphasizes fluency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the production of responsive apps and websites.

2014

ART 453/MKT 442

Highwire Brand Studio

Face-to-face

A semester-long, group project that requires design and marketing students to research and design outcomes for a real client. Co-taught with marketing faculty.

2013

ART 252

Image

Face-to-face

Covers physical and digital techniques for producing images that communicate compelling concepts. Includes intense Adobe Photoshop training, visual concept exercises, and basic publication design.

Independent Studies, Directed Research

2018

Immersive Design Technologies Toolkit Proposal Development

Jerry Belich, Experience Design Graduate Student

2018

Dark Side of Balloon Multiplayer Video Game

Jerry Belich, Experience Design
Graduate Student

2017

Channel Critical Design Piece

Jerry Belich, Experience Design Graduate Student

2017

Augmented Reality Music Video App for Mad Anthony Independent Study

Ringo Jones, Experience Design Graduate Student

2017

Utopia Room Escape the Room Project in Minneapolis, MN

Jerry Belich, Experience Design Graduate Student

2016–2017

U.S. Department Of Energy Race To Zero Student Design Competition

Supporting Faculty

Mentored two MFA Experience Design Students on the team

Thesis Chair

Major Curriculum Development

2017

M.F.A. in Experience Design Degree

Director and Founder

Miami University

Approved by the Ohio Chancellor’s Council on Graduate Studies (CCGS) and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). This program is the only distance-learning M.F.A in Experience Design in the world.

2017

M.F.A. in Experience Design NASAD Accreditation

Director and Founder

Miami University

Secured accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

2017

Miami Design Programs Restructuring and Renaming

Collaborator

Miami University

Renamed the B.F.A. in Graphic Design to Communication Design, restructured all
courses in the major and the minor in Communication Design to improve learning and increase efficiency.

Service

2017, 2021

Journal Reviewer

The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching

2018

Journal Reviewer

Dialectic, the AIGA Journal on Education and Practice in Visual Communication Design

2017

Presentation Abstract Reviewer

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0

2016

Promotion and Tenure Reviewer

A University in the Midwest U.S.
2016

Grant Review Board Member

AIGA Design Education Faculty Research Grants

2014

Steering Committee Member

Connecting Dots AIGA Design Educators Conference

Cincinnati, Ohio
2010-2012

Board Member and Working Lunches Co-Chair

Dallas Society of Visual Communications

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