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Design Thinking in Education

Design Thinking in Education

Design Thinking is a mindset and approach to learning, collaboration, and problem solving. In practice, the design process is a structured framework for identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions. Design Thinking can be flexibly implemented; serving equally well as a framework for a course design or a roadmap for an activity or group project.

Download the  HGSE Design Thinking in Education infographic  to learn more about what Design Thinking is and why it is powerful in the classroom.

Brainstorming Kit

Design Consultation for projects, session, and courses, including active learning and facilitation strategies.

Brainstorming Kits including Post-it notes, Sharpie markers, and stickable chart paper.

Physical Prototyping Cart with dozens of creative, constructivist supplies, including felt, yarn, foil, craft sticks, rubber bands, Play-Doh, Legos, and more.

Prototyping Cart

For more information about TLL resources or to check-out brainstorming or prototyping materials, contact Brandon Pousley .

Other Resources  There are dozens of ready-made activities, workbooks, and curricular guides available online. We suggest starting with the following:

Stanford — d.school  and the  The Bootcamp Bootleg IDEO — ' Design Thinking for Educators ' and the  Design ThinkingToolkit Business Innovation Factory —  'Teachers Design for Education'  and the TD4Ed Curriculum Research —  Design Thinking in Pedagogy  —  Luka, Ineta (2014). Design Thinking in Pedagogy. Journal of Education Culture and Society, No. 2, 63-74.


design thinking strategies education

What is Design Thinking in Education?

In a world where artificial intelligence, exemplified by tools like ChatGPT, is reshaping our world, the human touch of design thinking becomes even more crucial. You might already be familiar with design thinking and curious about how to harness it alongside AI, or perhaps you’re new to this method. Regardless of your experience level, I’m going to share why design thinking is your human advantage in an AI-world. We’ll explore its impact on students and educators, particularly when integrated into the curriculum to design learning experiences that are both innovative and empathetic.

Back in 2017, I spearheaded a two-year research study at Design39 Campus in San Diego, CA, focusing on how educators used design thinking to transcend traditional educational practices. This study was pivotal in understanding how to scale from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation. It’s rare to see a public school integrate these practices, and I always wondered, “Why is this the exception and not the norm?” How might design thinking when combined with AI tools, complement standards-based curricula by prompting students to tackle real-world challenges. We investigated the methods educators used to learn about design thinking and how they crafted learning experiences at the nexus of knowledge, skills, and mindsets, aiming to foster creative problem-solving in an increasingly AI-integrated world. The results revealed it had nothing to do with the technology. It had to do with people.

Design thinking is both a method and a mindset.

What makes design thinking unique in comparison to other frameworks such as project based learning, is that in addition to skills there is an emphasis on developing mindsets such as empathy, creative confidence, learning from failure and optimism.

Seeing their students and themselves enhance and develop their skills and mindset of a design thinker demonstrated the value in using design thinking and fueled their motivation to continue. In addition, it strengthened their self-efficacy and helped them embrace, not fear change.

The results indicate strong agreement amongst the educators between developing in demand skills such as creativity, problem finding, collaboration and communication and practicing design thinking. 

What is Design Thinking in Education

As workplaces determine how to leverage new and emerging technologies in ways that serve humanity, the two critical skills expected will be the ability to solve unstructured problems and to engage in complex communication, two areas that allow workers to augment what machines can do (Levy & Murnane, 2013.) 

Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014) call this era, “The Second Machine Age,” characterized by advances in technology, such as the rise of big data, mobility, artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things. The World Economic Forum calls this era, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” 

Regardless of the name we give this era, Schwab warned, as did Brynjolfsson and McAfee, that failure by organizations to prepare and adapt could cause inequality and fragment societies. 

That era that we once talked about, is not here.

The rise of generative Ai.

As Erik Brynjolfsson shares, “There is no economic law that says as technology advances, so does equal opportunity.” The World Economic Forum reinforces this by sharing, that while the dynamics of today’s world have the potential to create enormous prosperity, the challenge to societies, particularly businesses, governments and education systems, will be to create access to opportunities that will allow everyone to share in the prosperity. 

Top 15 skills for 2025 to answer What is Design Thinking in Education?

Schwab, Brynjolfsson and McAfee advocate for schools being able to play a powerful role in shaping a future that is technology-driven and human-centered. Design thinking, a human-centered framework is one method that can provide educators with the skills and mindset to navigate away from the traditional model established during the industrial area. To a learner-centered vision where we design learning experiences at the intersection of knowledge, skills, and mindsets.

The Future of Work

Designing schools for today’s learner is not just about solving a workforce or technology challenge. It’s also about solving a human challenge, where every individual has the access and opportunity to reach their potential. 

Despite the changing expectations of the workplace brought forth by this era, today’s education systems largely remain unchanged. Leaving graduates without the knowledge, skills and mindsets to thrive in future workplaces and as citizens. Furthermore, the lack of equity has led to what Paul Attewell calls a growing digital use divide deepening the fragmentation of society. 

​​A decade ago, some of the most in-demand occupations or specialties today did not exist across many industries and countries. Furthermore, 60% of children in kindergarten will live in a world where the possible opportunities do not yet exist (World Economic Forum, 2017).

In Technology, Jobs and the Future of Work, McKinsey states that 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that can be automated. 40% of employers say lack of skills is the main reason for entry level job vacancies. And 60% of new graduates said they were not prepared for the world of work in a knowledge economy, noting gaps in technical and soft skills. Before our experience with ChatGPT I’m reminded of Imaginable by Jane McGonigal where she shares, “Almost everything important that’s ever happened, was unimaginable shortly before it happened.”

With an influx of technology over the past decade, with iPads and Chromebooks, and now the acceleration of AI technology, particularly over the past year, we have to wonder what gaps exist that prevent us from accelerating and scaling the change we want to see in schools. 

One reason is that this challenge is complex and overwhelming. This is where design thinking practices are helpful in moving from idea to impact. Design thinking practices provide the structure and scaffolds needed to take a complex idea and simplify it.

The Design Thinking Process

Too often design thinking is seen as a series of hexagons to jump through. Check off one and move onto the next. Design thinking is a non-linear framework that nurtures your mindset toward navigating change. 

It can be used in three areas:

  • Problem finding
  • Problem solving
  • Opportunity exploration

The design thinking model is nonlinear. Resulting in a back and forth between the stages of inspiration, ideation and implementation, in an effort to continuously improve upon their potential solution (Shively et al., 2018). These stages were expanded by the d.School into empathy, define, ideate, prototype and iterate. In fact, there are many exercises that can be used to apply each area of the process. 

Let’s walk through each phase. Then I’ll share examples of how it is being used. I also want to preface this by saying that simply going through these stages is where most people misunderstand design thinking and don’t see the results they hoped for. These phases are here to help you develop an action-oriented mindset. Moving from identifying a problem to designing and then testing a solution to quickly get feedback. Each of these phases have numerous exercises to also help facilitate experiences based on your scenario.

Phase 1: Empathy

When you begin with empathy, what you think is challenged by what you learn. This alone is what makes design thinking so unique and is the first phase. During the empathy stage, you observe, engage and immerse yourself in the experience of those you are designing for. Continuously asking, “why” to understand why things are the way they are. 

This phase is where we see the most challenges, yet this phase is the most critical. An empathy map is probably the most common exercise. Yet there are others such as, “Heard, Seen, Respected.” Another challenge in this area is not speaking directly to the user. For example, I’ve sat in many “design thinking” experiences where the group will speculate on behalf of the users. For example, educators speculating about parents, administrators speculating about teachers. 

The purpose behind an empathy exercise is that when we begin with empathy, what we think is challenged by what we learn. While you can practice with each other, ultimately you must speak directly to who you are designing for.

Phase 2: Define

During the define stage you unpack the empathy findings and create an actionable problem statement often starting with, “how might we…” This statement not only emphasizes an optimistic outlook, it invites the designer to think about how this can be a collaborative approach.

Phase 3: Ideate

During the ideate phase you generate a series of possibilities for design. The focus here is quantity not quality. As you want to generate as many possibilities to see how they may merge together. As Guy Kawasaki shares, “Don’t worry be crappy.” Feasibility is not important at this step. Rather the key is to not think about what is possible but what can be possible. At the end, one of the ideas, or the merging of many ideas, is chosen to expand upon in the next phase. 

This is another phase where we see challenges. It is not enough to simply tell someone to get a piece of paper and then come up with lots of ideas. As adults, this is incredibly challenging and is also a muscle that needs to be developed. In fact, one of my favorite exercises is 1-2-4-all. Another is walking questions, where the prompt begins with “What if…” and then after each person writes something it is handed to the person on their right.

Phase 4: Prototype

During the prototype phase, ideas that were narrowed down from ideation are created in a tangible form so that they can be tested. During this phase, the designer has an opportunity to test their prototype and gain feedback.

Phase 5: Iteration

By quickly testing the prototype, the user can refine the idea. And have a deeper understanding to go back and ask questions to the group they are designing for. The feedback received from the user allows the designer to engage in a deeper level of empathy to refine the questions asked and the problem being defined. This brings us back to phase 1. 

You can find more of these exercises to lead your group through each phase at sessionlab.com . 

As schools strive to create student learning experiences that prepare them for their future, design thinking can play a critical role in complementing students’ knowledge with the skills and mindsets to be creative problem solvers.

Examples of Design Thinking in K12

While new approaches tend to be viewed with skepticism, an increasing number of studies are coming forward reflecting the promise of transferability of skills and mindsets from the classroom to real-world problems when utilizing design thinking. As expectations are raised about what student skills and mindsets are needed, the level of support for educators must increase as well to experience success in new strategies and the outcomes they promise. 

When student learning experiences include design thinking, their skills continue to be enhanced and developed. This in turn allows them to apply these strategies to be problem finders and problem solvers. Helping them be more comfortable with change and empowering them to solve unstructured problems. And work with new information, gaining knowledge, skills and mindsets that cannot be found in the confines of a textbook.

In “The Second Machine Age,” the authors share:

Technological progress is going to leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead. As we’ll demonstrate, there’s never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education. Because these people can use technology to create and capture value. However, there’s never been a worse time to be a worker with only “ordinary” skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots, and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate. The Second Machine Age | Erik Brynjolfsson | Andrew McAffee

Design thinking strengthens the mindsets and skills that today’s world demands with the ability to become creative problem solvers. Through nurturing the skills and mindsets developed through engaging in design thinking, schools can create more equitable use environments for all learners that leverage technology to accelerate creative tasks that can bridge the digital use divide.

Case Study 1: Design Thinking in Grade 6

A recent study by the Stanford Graduate School of Education highlights that through instruction, students transfer design thinking strategies beyond the classroom. And that the biggest benefits were to low-achieving students (Chin et al., 2019). 

The study included 200 students from grade 6. The researchers worked with the educators during class time to coach half the group of students on two specific design thinking strategies. And then assigned them a project where they could apply these skills.

The two strategies included seeking out constructive feedback and identifying multiple possible outcomes to a challenge. Each of these strategies were designed to prevent what the researchers called, “early closure”. Identifying the potential solution before examining the problem. 

After class the students were presented with different challenges to see how they would approach them. The students who were taught about constructive criticism asked for feedback when presented with the new challenge and were more likely to go back and revise their work. 

This area was significant, as a pre-test revealed that low-achieving students were behind their high achieving peers when seeking out feedback, a gap that the researchers say disappeared after classroom instruction, highlighting the need for this to be taught to all students, not just advanced students in electives.

As Attewell shares, “Placing computers in the hands of every student is not a solution because the challenge lies in addressing the “ digital use divide – changing the tasks that students do when provided with computers.” 

He further highlights the students who gain the types of skills highlighted by the Future of Jobs Report are white and affluent students. These students are more likely to use technology to develop trending skills with greater levels of adult support. Whereas minority students are more likely to use it for rote learning tasks, with lower levels of adult support. 

While design thinking is often found in pockets, presented to students already interested in this area, or the students who are in certain electives, the study led by the Stanford Graduate School of Education demonstrates the advances that can be made when this is offered to all students.

Case Study 2: Design Thinking in Geography

Another study (Caroll et al., 2010) focused on the implementation of a design curriculum during a middle school geography class. And explored how students expressed their understanding of design thinking in classroom activities, how affective elements impacted design thinking in the classroom environment and how design thinking is connected to academic standards and content in the classroom. The students were a diverse group with 60% Latino, 30% African-American, 9% Pacific Islander and 1% White.

The task was for students to use the design process to learn about systems in geography. The study found that students increased their levels of creative confidence. And that design thinking fostered the ability to imagine without boundaries and constraints. A key element to success was that educators needed to see the value of design thinking. And it must be integrated into academic content.

A challenge often associated with design thinking in education is not integrating it into mainstream education as an equitable experience for all learners despite showing that lower achieving students benefit more (Chin et al, 2019). 

If students are to experience dynamic learning experiences, then organizations must raise the level of support for educators and give them the time and space to learn and integrate design thinking.

How Educators Use Design Thinking

Educators are facing a number of challenges in their professional practice. Many of the requirements today are tools and methods they did not grow up with. Furthermore, the profession is tasked with designing new methods often within traditional systems that have constraints that may serve as roadblocks to change (Robinson & Aronica, 2016). 

A 2018 study by PwC with the Business Higher Education Forum shared that an average of 10% of K-12 teachers feel confident incorporating higher-level technology that affords students the opportunity to use technology to design learning that is active, not passive. 

As a result, students do not spend much time in school actively practicing the higher-level trending skills expected by employers. Moreover, the report shows that more than 60% of classroom technology use is passive, while only 32% is active use. While the study suggests that many teachers do not have the skills to engage students in the active use of technology, 79% said they would like to have more professional development for how to leverage technology to design learning that is active.

Case Study 3: Design39 Campus

As I shared earlier I led a two-year research study at Design39 Campus. The study examines how it helped teachers evolve their practice. At Design39 teachers are called “Learning Experience Designers” (LEDs). Borko and Putnam (1995) share that how educators think is related to their knowledge. To understand how LEDs are using design thinking to complement the standards-based curriculum, it was important to understand how they acquired and applied this knowledge.  

Despite design thinking having its roots outside of education, when asked, “What does design thinking mean to you?” The LEDs identified many commonalities amongst their own work as educators and design thinking. Moreover, they appreciated the alignment of their work with the vocabulary and structure of the design thinking framework. 

Over 50% of the LEDs interviewed identified design thinking as providing them with a common vocabulary and structure for what they already do. The LEDs identified educators as inherent design thinkers due to the shared human-centered focus of working with users. In this experience educators design challenges with cyclical learning tasks involving testing, feedback and iteration, and a design mindset to address the wide variety of complex problems within their individual classrooms and across education organizations.

One LED shared:

I just look at it as a process, a process in my mind that we kind of naturally go through as educators, and so with the design thinking process I feel that it is codifying what we do and so we start off always in empathy and empathy is the heart of design thinking and so we are problem solving, who are we problem solving for – people, our learners and so this entire process that we go through of brain dumping it, trying it, getting feedback and coming back to it again so that we can make sure we were really insightful about what the problem really was for the users and we continue around this process to fine tune a potential solution is the design thinking process. Learning Experience Designer | Design39 Campus

One of the ways mastery of knowledge is demonstrated is by teaching others. To assess their mastery of design thinking in education, learning experience designers were asked to describe their confidence in teaching someone else how to integrate design thinking into their curriculum.

Design Thinking in Education

Many LEDs acknowledged that although this is what it often looked like in the first year of the school opening, they have since had the time, space and collaborative opportunities to explore and create deeper integration. This was a point of reference mentioned by 78% of LEDs.

I think a lot of people see design thinking as one science activity, we design think everything from rules to problems that come up in the playground, it’s all through the day, they (the learners) are always looking for problems to solve. Learning Experience Designer | Design39 Campus

In another example, four LEDs made a note using the exact same language that “design thinking is not always cardboard and duct tape.” What allows them to design learning that is more meaningful  one LED highlighted:

Not every day is about using duct tape and cardboard, sometimes to do the design to solve the problems you have to hunker down and read and research and so some days, design thinking is highlighting and taking notes. Learning Experience Designer | Design39 Campus

Another LED elaborated on this idea by sharing that

Design thinking is a way of thinking, not always a product that is created at the end. Learning Experience Designer | Design39 Campus

LEDs in all focus groups shared how ultimately design thinking was an opportunity to design lessons that are “ bigger than we are .” 

This allowed for the LEDs to design learning experiences. With this, the end result was not to just design a potential solution to a challenge that was identified. Or to simply go from one standard to another, checking off boxes along the way, but that the solution, the work the learners were doing lived beyond the classroom for an authentic audience, where learners are working on real world problems and presenting their solutions to a real world audience.

Almost all of the LEDs shared that to them design thinking was a mindset. It is a process of inquiry that allowed for a more human centered environment where the learner was the focus. 

This highlighted a critical shift in the culture at Design39, an element Sarason (2004) discussed in saying no one ever asks:

“Why is school not a place where educators learn as well?” 

Bring a Design Thinking Workshop to Your School

We’ve invested in technology. Now it’s time to invest in people. Let’s discuss how design thinking practices can enhance the work you are doing in your school, giving everyone the mindset and skills to navigate change with enthusiasm and optimism. Use this calendar to schedule a time with Sabba to discuss bringing a workshop to your school. Workshops can be delivered both virtually and in-person.

Dr. Sabba workshop experience

Attewell, P. (2001). The first and second digital divides. Sociology of Education, 74(3), 252-259

Borko, H., & Putnam, R.T. (1995). Expanding a teacher’s knowledge base: A cognitive psychological perspective on professional development. In T. Gusky & M. Huberman (Eds), Professional development in education: New paradigms and practices (pp.35-65). Teachers College Press. 

Brown, T & Wyatt, J. (2010). Design thinking for social innovation.  Stanford Social Science Review, 8 (1), 30-35.

Brynjolfsson, E. (2014).  The second machine age: Work, progress, and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies  (1st t ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

Carroll, M., Goldman, S., Britos, L., Koh, J., Royalty, A., & Hornstein, M. (2010). Destination, imagination and the fires within: Design thinking in a middle school classroom. International Journal of Art and Design Education, (29)1, 37-53.

Chin, D. B., Doris, Blair, K.P., Wolf, R., & Conlin, L., Cutumisu, M., Pfaffman, J., Schwartz, D.L. (2019). Educating and measuring choice: A test of the transfer of design thinking in problem solving and learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences. 1-44. 

Levy, F., & Murnane, R. (2013). Dancing with Robots. NEXT Report.

McKinsey Global Institute (2017). Technology, Jobs and the Future of Work. McKinsey. 

PwC (2017). Technology in U.S. Schools: Are we preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow . Pricewater House Coopers. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/about-us/corporate-responsibility/library/preparing-students-for-technology-jobs.html .

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools: the grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. Penguin Books.

Shively, K., Stith, K.M., & Rubenstein, L.D. (2018). Measuring what matters: Assessing creativity, critical thinking, and the design process. Gifted Child Today, 41(3) 149-158.

World Economic Forum. (2018). The future of jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution . World Economic Forum. 

design thinking strategies education

I believe that the future should be designed. Not left to chance. Over the past decade, using design thinking practices I've helped schools and businesses create a culture of innovation where everyone is empowered to move from idea to impact, to address complex challenges and discover opportunities. 

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Design Thinking

What makes design thinking different.

Traditional courses progress the student learning from conceptual understanding towards demonstrations of skill and capacity in a linear, topically focused manner. Setting this scaffolding is set in place, fixes the problems, and the solutions are typically within a known range. But many course problems are research questions that defy simple explanations or right/wrong answers. For these courses, need a more dexterous approach. 

In Design Thinking, they are discovering knowledge through exploration. Students help define the problems, identify and develop potential solutions, and determine ways to assess the work. Instructors serve as facilitators and advisors to this learning. Embedded throughout the process is capacity-building through linked-learning experiences, collaborative exercises, and creative problem-solving [iii] . Learning often involves hands-on experiences focused on real-world challenges. By centering course activities around a problem and generating creative solutions, these courses support the development of essential competencies such as critical thinking, reflective learning, adaptability, effective collaboration, and systems thinking.

The Design Thinking Multi-Stage Model

Discovery (empathy, research, and problem definition), ideation (interpret, create, and make), experimentation (prototype, test and evaluate), evolution (re-think, re-make, repeat), deployment (socialize, pilot, and integrate).

Design Thinking represented by arrows pointing right - Discovery (Empathy, Research, Problem Definition), Ideation (Interpret, Create), Experimentation (Prototype, Test, Evaluate), and Evolution (Rethinking, Redesign, Repeat)

The first stages are directed towards understanding and defining potential problems for solutions by asking, “What Is It?” The requisite foundation for all other design thinking stages is the ability to generate informed and empathetic work during this stage. How? Through literature reviews and consultations with experts along with the combined observations and engagements with people and physical environments relevant to the topic. Information gathered and documented during this stage can be aligned with course objectives and assessments. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the issues throughout the process.

Upon completing the information gathering, teams organize, interpret, and make sense of the data to define a problem scope. Doing so requires both analysis (i.e., breaking down complex concepts) and synthesis (i.e., creatively piecing information together to form whole ideas). A good problem statement should be human-centered, broad enough for creative freedom, but narrow enough to be manageable. As a general rule, consider using the Stanford d. school “Why-How Ladder” (a variation of the Sakichi Toyoda “5 Whys” technique) to refine the problem statement and to suggest how to move forwards with design problem-solving.

Unlike the traditional project-based learning method, instructors do not define the problem in design thinking. They can, and should, define a scope, but defining the actual problem is part of the student responsibility. 

At this stage, students interpret their research into a range of creative ideas and potential solutions. This step starts the “What If?” phase of the work. Instructors should encourage enthusiasm and collaborative participation by incorporating active-learning methods, visualization techniques of “systems-thinking,” and other image-oriented methods to document brainstorming.

Expert guidance is required to maintain enthusiasm in the ideation process by guiding proposals and bringing focus to the expectations. Instructors suggest practices to enhance the solutions and temper expectations (e.g., “your solution won’t solve world hunger as you proposed, but it can make a difference in one stage of food production—let’s use that to refocus the design effort.” Eventually a more narrow range of possible solutions is identified, and the work of making/designing begins.

In this stage, ideas become manifest. Students are deciding how and what to produce is of central importance. Iteration is essential. Align activities with course objectives and professional practice models. As ideation moves into prototyping, the expectation is that student groups produce several scaled-down versions or features of the final solution. Doing so allows students to understand better the constraints and benefits inherent to the solutions they’ve designed. The introduction of new tools and skills can occur during this stage, along with emphasizing collaborative efforts. 

Experimentation is only complete when identifying problems by breaking the project down through evaluation.

This process looks for failures and revelations that emerge through testing; profound learning opportunities arise when solutions don’t meet their objectives. 

Learning how to define and evaluate the relative value and efficacy of the prototypes follows is an essential skill. Students often return to the Discovery stage to identify the proper standards for evaluating success (Who does it work for? Does it work in the way you intended? How would you know?). At this stage, instructors can show how practical conditions affect evaluation (industry standards, code requirements, etc.) and how exigent forces would affect the solution (e.g., broader economic, sociological, and cultural conditions).

This stage isn’t the end of the process; ultimately, testing is a generative process for redesign as it reveals opportunities for improvement. By trying to determine how and why specific solutions are rejected, improved, or accepted, students develop clarity of how real users would behave, think, and feel when interacting with the solution. At this stage, alterations and refinements are expected to be more mature and technically developed. Collaborations may be extended into communities to expand testing and assessment.

The multi-stage process implies a linear direction of progress, but designing and learning are inherently more unpredictable, so the model is flexible. Information learned from testing helps refine the problem definition and the overall design. There is a perpetual loop of feedback. Ultimately, solutions are evolved and improved through reiteration and repetition, as fewer factors are considered for each iteration.

The challenge of design thinking is often knowing when this evolutionary process of redesigning is “done.” Solving a problem, particularly a vexing one, is unlikely within the constraints of school. Academic calendars and restrictions are quite different from practice, so there are often situations in which a “good enough for now” scenario is the goal.

Ideally, of course, the process can spark an interest in students to continue a life-long engagement in these research projects. This process is ultimately about joining on-going conversations and searching for new knowledge through design solutions. It isn’t about resolution. The passion of the search is what is essential to teach and learn.

Specific projects may have the opportunity to develop into real-world solutions. This stage of deployment focuses on ways that solutions become tangible, actionable, and ready for use. In the socializing phase, the ideas develop to the degree that buy-in occurs and teams built around the solution. This phase relies on the ability to tell compelling stories about the solution. Because these stories have naturally developed through a rigorous Design Thinking process, it is relatively easy to build a narrative around a solution based on the process.

In the piloting phase, the solution is introduced to a predetermined group to gain real-world feedback and reviews. Depending on the solution’s stage and scope, this may occur at a smaller scale during prototyping. In this phase, the focus is on identifying barriers to implementation of use and integration. Depending on the solution, these barriers to production and method may be profound. This work takes in-depth expertise and cross-disciplinary collaborations to understand markets, supply-chains, production, delivery models, and how the solution will enhance or disrupt existing models.

What is the Difference between Project-Based Learning (PBL), Understanding by Design (UbD), and Design Thinking (DT)?

Project-based learning (PBL) is a broader category of educational activities in which curricular activities are all centered around sustained engagement with a problem or project. Using PBL, a potentially important study narrowed down into a series of discrete activities using student-directed learning. A PBL approach can closely align with curricular checkpoints by defining a path of inquiry and production through essential guiding questions and required deliverables.

The Understanding by Design (UbD) model, is similar to PBL in its use of creative problem solving as the central learning activity. It differs mostly in the way of evaluating success. In UbD, educators help define the problem and develop a process of design-learning with the final result. In some courses, particularly those with complex topics, there may not be a readily available answer. The problem itself may not be easily defined, which complicates the PBL and UbD model.

Design Thinking is intentionally more open-ended than these other options. Students help to define the problem based on a generative topic that opens an area of research. Students are encouraged to align what they produce with their broader research questions. Assessment is related to prototyping and rebuilding intended to promote creative risk-taking.

Design Thinking Resources for Educators

  • Kelley, T. (2016). The Art Of Innovation . London: Profile Books.
  • O’Donnell Wicklund Pigozzi Peterson, Architects Inc, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher : 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning / OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, Bruce Mau Design . New York: Abrams.
  • Weinschenk, S. (2015). 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (1st ed.) . New Riders.

Manuals / Toolkits

  • IDEO.org. (2015). T he Field Guide to Human-Centered Design (Community Engagement Manual) . Retrieved from https://www.designkit.org/
  • Riverdale Country School & IDEO.org. (2019). Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit (2 nd Edition). Retrieved from https://www.ideo.com/post/design-thinking-for-educators/


  • Institute of Design at Stanford (d.School) website  (Hasso-Plattner)
  • RED lab: Research in Education and Design website (Stanford School of Education)
  • TD4Ed: Teachers Design for Education website (Business Innovation Factory)
  • Edutopia, Design Thinking Video Collection
  • Design Thinking For Educators”  context  /  profession  /  practice  /  mindse

[i] Tim Brown, “Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation,” Harper Business, 2009. https://designthinking.ideo.com

[ii] Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford, “Design Thinking Mix Tapes,” 2018. https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources/chart-a-new-course-put-design-thinking-to-work

[iii] IDEO, “Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit” (2 nd Edition), IDEO + Riverdale Country School, 2019. https://www.ideo.com/post/design-thinking-for-educators

[iv] Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial (3 rd Ed.), 1996

design thinking strategies education

What is Design Thinking? A Handy Guide for Teachers

design thinking strategies education

In this post, Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire, will help you understand more about Design Thinking. You’ll get to know what Design Thinking is, why Design Thinking is important, the phases of the Design Thinking process and how you might teach your students how to use Design Thinking to reframe problems and needs as actionable statements.

Designers use particular ways of thinking to create innovative new products and design solutions to challenging problems. As educators, we can learn a lot from the way designers think.

What is Design Thinking?

MAK_Design Thinking for Schools_1809_A3

  • A solutions-based approach to solving problems.
  • An iterative, non-linear process.
  • A way of thinking and working.
  • Supported by a collection of strategies and methods.
  • Develop empathy and understand the needs of the people we are designing solutions for.
  • Define problems and opportunities for designing solutions.
  • Generate and visualise creative ideas.
  • Develop prototypes.
  • Test solutions and seek feedback.

Why is Design Thinking important?

Consider the rapidly changing world we live in. To thrive in the future students will need to be adaptable and flexible. They will need to be prepared to face situations that they have never seen before. Design Thinking is one of the best tools we can give our students to ensure they:

  • Have creative confidence in their abilities to adapt and respond to new challenges.
  • Are able to identify and develop innovative, creative solutions to problems they and others encounter.
  • Develop as optimistic, empathetic and active members of society who can contribute to solving the complex challenges the world faces.

design thinking strategies education

How can students use Design Thinking?

So what does Design Thinking look like in action?

Watch these inspiring videos made by schools in Australia showing how students used Design Thinking and Makers Empire to solve common real-world problems in their classroom, school and communities.

Please note that the Makers Empire app depicted in this video is a much earlier version of the app.

How did the students in the videos use design thinking.

In the Forbes primary school bag tag video, for example, we saw our first graders:

  • Developing and agreeing on criteria for their designs.
  • Selecting tools and materials – in this case, Makers Empire and 3D printing.
  • Supporting each other to learn how to use the new tools.
  • Producing a working prototype.

The testing process for our first graders involved:

  • Giving each other feedback
  • Assessing their designs against the previous agreed criteria
  • Making modifications and improvements to their designs
  • Testing their designs in the context they would be used.
  • Reflecting on their problem-solving processes and learning outcomes.

design thinking strategies education

How can we teach Design Thinking with little time to plan?

Makers Empire teachers never cease to impress us with their innovative and creative ideas for using Makers Empire to help students achieve curriculum learning outcomes. However, we also know how busy teachers are and how difficult it can be to find time to plan engaging, curriculum-aligned units of work. So we created ready-made Challenge Courses . 

Each themed course is a complete design program comprising videos, quizzes, tutorials & design challenges.  Challenge Courses are aligned to curriculum outcomes and teach real world-problem solving using Design Thinking. Challenge courses take 4-10 weeks to complete so teachers might plan to have students do a course during one lesson/week over a term. During that term, students will address all aspects of the Design and Technologies curriculum without teachers needing to do any extra planning. 

How can we learn more about Design Thinking?

Makers Empire offers customisable Design Thinking and 3D design learning programs to school districts, education departments , and groups of schools .

Through our professional learning programs, teachers learn how to use Design Thinking and 3D design to transform the way they teach STEM subjects and help  equip students with the skills and attitudes they’ll need to thrive in the future.

We’ve delivered Design Thinking and 3D technology programs to groups of 200+ schools in Australia, America and the Middle East so we have the right experience, skills and team to help you.

design thinking strategies education

How will you teach Design Thinking?

design thinking strategies education

Now it’s your turn. Think about projects you can do with your students that will help enhance and deepen learning. How might you support your students to:

  • Develop empathy , insights and understandings.
  • Define a problem as an actionable question.
  • Generate and visualise ideas.
  • Develop prototypes; and
  • Evaluate and test their designed solutions.

Makers Empire is an excellent way to teach Design Thinking to students. You can sign up for a free school trial at the top of this website. Don’t forget to download our free  Design Thinking posters and worksheets , too.

Picture of Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is a highly respected educator and speaker who works internationally with elementary, primary and middle schools to help teachers develop Design Thinking, embrace maker pedagogy and cover Design & Technology Curriculum. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education.

How to Enhance Design Thinking with ChatGPT

design thinking strategies education

New technologies are always posing challenges in the educational sector.  It’s not the technology that’s the issue, but the people and processes.  Educators’ approaches to these digital advancements must not be to deny their existence but to understand how they can be used to transform assessment.  AI tools, such as ChatGPT, offer students access to a wealth of information and can be most useful as research and practice guides in active and applied problem-solving tasks such as those used in design thinking.

So how can teachers embrace ChatGPT and use it to enhance design thinking approaches? 

ChatGPT is capable of facilitating the generation of novel ideas, enhancing creativity and improving product development (Haleem, 2022).  It can reinforce the principles of design thinking through its ability to generate student centred solutions with its iterative problem solving approach (Enhold, 2022).  For each of the phases in design thinking, ChatGPT can be a useful tool.

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Design Thinking (DT)

What is design thinking (dt).

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. It is most useful to tackle ill-defined or unknown problems and involves five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

  • Transcript loading…

Why Is Design Thinking so Important?

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

— Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

Design thinking fosters innovation . Companies must innovate to survive and remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment. In design thinking, cross-functional teams work together to understand user needs and create solutions that address those needs. Moreover, the design thinking process helps unearth creative solutions.

Design teams use design thinking to tackle ill-defined/unknown problems (aka wicked problems ). Alan Dix, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction, explains what wicked problems are in this video.

Wicked problems demand teams to think outside the box, take action immediately, and constantly iterate—all hallmarks of design thinking.

Don Norman, a pioneer of user experience design, explains why the designer’s way of thinking is so powerful when it comes to such complex problems.

Design thinking offers practical methods and tools that major companies like Google, Apple and Airbnb use to drive innovation. From architecture and engineering to technology and services, companies across industries have embraced the methodology to drive innovation and address complex problems. 

The End Goal of Design Thinking: Be Desirable, Feasible and Viable

Three Lenses of Design Thinking.

The design thinking process aims to satisfy three criteria: desirability (what do people desire?), feasibility (is it technically possible to build the solution?) and viability (can the company profit from the solution?). Teams begin with desirability and then bring in the other two lenses.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

Desirability: Meet People’s Needs

The design thinking process starts by looking at the needs, dreams and behaviors of people—the end users. The team listens with empathy to understand what people want, not what the organization thinks they want or need. The team then thinks about solutions to satisfy these needs from the end user’s point of view.

Feasibility: Be Technologically Possible

Once the team identifies one or more solutions, they determine whether the organization can implement them. In theory, any solution is feasible if the organization has infinite resources and time to develop the solution. However, given the team’s current (or future resources), the team evaluates if the solution is worth pursuing. The team may iterate on the solution to make it more feasible or plan to increase its resources (say, hire more people or acquire specialized machinery).

At the beginning of the design thinking process, teams should not get too caught up in the technical implementation. If teams begin with technical constraints, they might restrict innovation.

Viability: Generate Profits

A desirable and technically feasible product isn’t enough. The organization must be able to generate revenues and profits from the solution. The viability lens is essential not only for commercial organizations but also for non-profits. 

Traditionally, companies begin with feasibility or viability and then try to find a problem to fit the solution and push it to the market. Design thinking reverses this process and advocates that teams begin with desirability and bring in the other two lenses later.

The Five Stages of Design Thinking

Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, commonly known as the d.school, is renowned for its pioneering approach to design thinking. Their design process has five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. These stages are not always sequential. Teams often run them in parallel, out of order, and repeat them as needed.

Stage 1: Empathize —Research Users' Needs

The team aims to understand the problem, typically through user research. Empathy is crucial to design thinking because it allows designers to set aside your assumptions about the world and gain insight into users and their needs.

Stage 2: Define—State Users' Needs and Problems

Once the team accumulates the information, they analyze the observations and synthesize them to define the core problems. These definitions are called problem statements . The team may create personas to help keep efforts human-centered.

Stage 3: Ideate—Challenge Assumptions and Create Ideas

With the foundation ready, teams gear up to “think outside the box.” They brainstorm alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the problem statement.

Stage 4: Prototype—Start to Create Solutions

This is an experimental phase. The aim is to identify the best possible solution for each problem. The team produces inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product (or specific features found within the product) to investigate the ideas. This may be as simple as paper prototypes .

Stage 5: Test—Try the Solutions Out

The team tests these prototypes with real users to evaluate if they solve the problem. The test might throw up new insights, based on which the team might refine the prototype or even go back to the Define stage to revisit the problem.

These stages are different modes that contribute to the entire design project rather than sequential steps. The goal is to gain a deep understanding of the users and their ideal solution/product.

Design Thinking: A Non-Linear Process

Design Thinking Frameworks

There is no single definition or process for design thinking. The five-stage design thinking methodology described above is just one of several frameworks.

Hasso-Platner Institute Panorama

Ludwig Wilhelm Wall, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Innovation doesn’t follow a linear path or have a clear-cut formula. Global design leaders and consultants have interpreted the abstract design process in different ways and have proposed other frameworks of design thinking.

Head, Heart and Hand by the American Institution of Graphic Arts (AIGA)

The Head, Heart, and Hand approach by AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) is a holistic perspective on design. It integrates the intellectual, emotional, and practical aspects of the creative process.

design thinking strategies education

More than a process, the Head, Heart and Hand framework outlines the different roles that designers must perform to create great results.

© American Institute of Graphic Arts, Fair Use

“ Head ” symbolizes the intellectual component. The team focuses on strategic thinking, problem-solving and the cognitive aspects of design. It involves research and analytical thinking to ensure that design decisions are purposeful.

“ Heart ” represents the emotional dimension. It emphasizes empathy, passion, and human-centeredness. This aspect is crucial in understanding the users’ needs, desires, and experiences to ensure that designs resonate on a deeper, more personal level.

“ Hand ” signifies the practical execution of ideas, the craftsmanship, and the skills necessary to turn concepts into tangible solutions. This includes the mastery of tools, techniques, and materials, as well as the ability to implement and execute design ideas effectively.

Inspire, Ideate, Implement by IDEO

IDEO is a leading design consultancy and has developed its own version of the design thinking framework.

The 3 core activities of deisgn thinking, by IDEO.

IDEO’s design thinking process is a cyclical three-step process that involves Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation.

© IDEO, Public License

In the “ Inspire ” phase, the team focuses on understanding users’ needs, behaviors, and motivations. The team empathizes with people through observation and user interviews to gather deep insights.

In the “ Ideate ” phase, the team synthesizes the insights gained to brainstorm a wide array of creative solutions. This stage encourages divergent thinking, where teams focus on quantity and variety of ideas over immediate practicality. The goal is to explore as many possibilities as possible without constraints.

In the “ Implement ” phase, the team brings these ideas to life through prototypes. The team tests, iterates and refines these ideas based on user feedback. This stage is crucial for translating abstract concepts into tangible, viable products, services, or experiences.

The methodology emphasizes collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach throughout each phase to ensure solutions are innovative and deeply rooted in real human needs and contexts.

The Double Diamond by the Design Council

In the book Designing Social Systems in a Changing World , Béla Heinrich Bánáthy, Professor at San Jose State University and UC Berkeley, created a “divergence-convergence model” diagram. The British Design Council interpreted this diagram to create the Double Diamond design process model.

Design Council's Double Diamond

As the name suggests, the double diamond model consists of two diamonds—one for the problem space and the other for the solution space. The model uses diamonds to represent the alternating diverging and converging activities.

© Design Council, CC BY 4.0

In the diverging “ Discover ” phase, designers gather insights and empathize with users’ needs. The team then converges in the “ Define ” phase to identify the problem.

The second, solution-related diamond, begins with “ Develop ,” where the team brainstorms ideas. The final stage is “ Deliver ,” where the team tests the concepts and implements the most viable solution.

This model balances expansive thinking with focused execution to ensure that design solutions are both creative and practical. It underscores the importance of understanding the problem thoroughly and carefully crafting the solution, making it a staple in many design and innovation processes.

design thinking strategies education

With the widespread adoption of the double diamond framework, Design Council’s simple visual evolved.

In this expanded and annotated version, the framework emphasizes four design principles:

Be people-centered.

Communicate (visually and inclusively).

Collaborate and co-create.

Iterate, iterate, iterate!

The updated version also highlights the importance of leadership (to create an environment that allows innovation) and engagement (to connect with different stakeholders and involve them in the design process).

Common Elements of Design Thinking Frameworks

On the surface, design thinking frameworks look very different—they use alternative names and have different numbers of steps. However, at a fundamental level, they share several common traits.

design thinking strategies education

Start with empathy . Focus on the people to come up with solutions that work best for individuals, business, and society.

Reframe the problem or challenge at hand . Don’t rush into a solution. Explore the problem space and look at the issue through multiple perspectives to gain a more holistic, nuanced understanding.

Initially, employ a divergent style of thinking (analyze) . In the problem space, gather as many insights as possible. In the solution space, encourage team members to generate and explore as many solutions as possible in an open, judgment-free ideation space.

Later, employ a convergent style of thinking (synthesize) . In the problem space, synthesize all data points to define the problem. In the solution space, whittle down all the ideas—isolate, combine and refine potential solutions to create more mature ideas.

Create and test prototypes . Solutions that make it through the previous stages get tested further to remove potential issues.

Iterate . As the team progresses through the various stages, they revisit different stages and may redefine the challenge based on new insights.

Five stages in the design thinking process.

Design thinking is a non-linear process. For example, teams may jump from the test stage to the define stage if the tests reveal insights that redefine the problem. Or, a prototype might spark a new idea, prompting the team to step back into the ideate stage. Tests may also create new ideas for projects or reveal insights about users.

Design Thinking Mindsets: More than a Process

design thinking strategies education

A mindset is a characteristic mental attitude that determines how one interprets and responds to situations . Design thinking mindsets are how individuals think , feel and express themselves during design thinking activities. It includes people’s expectations and orientations during a design project.

Without the right mindset, it can be very challenging to change how we work and think.

The key mindsets that ensure a team can successfully implement design thinking are.

Be empathetic: Empathy is the ability to place yourself, your thinking and feelings in another person’s shoes. Design thinking begins from a deep understanding of the needs and motivations of people—the parents, neighbors, children, colleagues, and strangers who make up a community. 

Be collaborative: No one person is responsible for the outcome when you work in a team. Several great minds are always stronger than just one. Design thinking benefits from the views of multiple perspectives and lets others’ creativity bolster your own.

Be optimistic: Be confident about achieving favorable outcomes. Design thinking is the fundamental belief that we can all create change—no matter how big a problem, how little time, or how small a budget. Designing can be a powerful process no matter what constraints exist around you.

Embrace ambiguity: Get comfortable with ambiguous and complex situations. If you expect perfection, it is difficult to take risks, which limits your ability to create radical change. Design thinking is all about experimenting and learning by doing. It gives you the confidence to believe that new, better things are possible and that you can help make them a reality. 

Be curious: Be open to different ideas. Recognize that you are not the user.

Reframe: Challenge and reframe assumptions associated with a given situation or problem. Don’t take problems at face value. Humans are primed to look for patterns. The unfortunate side effect of these patterns is that we form (often false and sometimes dangerous) stereotypes and assumptions. Design thinking aims to help you break through any preconceived notions and biases and reframe challenges.

Embrace diversity: Work with and engage people with different cultural backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking and working. Everyone brings a unique perspective to the team. When you include diverse voices in a team, you learn from each other’s experiences, further helping you break through your assumptions.

Make tangible: When you make ideas tangible, it is faster and easier for everyone on the team to be on the same page. For example, sketching an idea or enacting a scenario is far more convenient and easy to interpret than an elaborate presentation or document.

Take action: Run experiments and learn from them.

Design Thinking vs Agile Methodology

Teams often use design thinking and agile methodologies in project management, product development, and software development. These methodologies have distinct approaches but share some common principles.

Similarities between Design Thinking and Agile

Iterative process.

Both methodologies emphasize iterative development. In design thinking, teams may jump from one phase to another, not necessarily in a set cyclical or linear order. For example, on testing a prototype, teams may discover something new about their users and realize that they must redefine the problem. Agile teams iterate through development sprints.


The agile and design thinking methodologies focus on the end user. All design thinking activities—from empathizing to prototyping and testing—keep the end users front and center. Agile teams continually integrate user feedback into development cycles.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Both methodologies rely heavily on collaboration among cross-functional teams and encourage diverse perspectives and expertise.

Flexibility and Adaptability

With its focus on user research, prototyping and testing, design thinking ensures teams remain in touch with users and get continuous feedback. Similarly, agile teams monitor user feedback and refine the product in a reasonably quick time.

design thinking strategies education

In this video, Laura Klein, author of Build Better Products , describes a typical challenge designers face on agile teams. She encourages designers to get comfortable with the idea of a design not being perfect. Notice the many parallels between Laura’s advice for designers on agile teams and the mindsets of design thinking.

Differences between Design Thinking and Agile

While design thinking and agile teams share principles like iteration, user focus, and collaboration, they are neither interchangeable nor mutually exclusive. A team can apply both methodologies without any conflict.

From a user experience design perspective, design thinking applies to the more abstract elements of strategy and scope. At the same time, agile is more relevant to the more concrete elements of UX: structure, skeleton and surface. For quick reference, here’s an overview of the five elements of user experience.

Design thinking is more about exploring and defining the right problem and solution, whereas agile is about efficiently executing and delivering a product.

Here are the key differences between design thinking and agile.

Design Thinking

It primarily originates in design and borrows from multiple disciplines, including psychology, systems thinking, and business strategy.

It primarily originates from software development and borrows from disciplines such as manufacturing and project management.

Primary Focus

Problem-solving and innovative solutions.

Efficient product delivery.

Phase of Application

Usually, toward the beginning of a project. Aims to define the problem and test and pick a solution.

Usually, after teams have a clear solution. Aims to deliver that solution and continuously iterate on the live product.

Structure and Documentation

Fluid process, less formal and relatively lesser documentation.

Structured and formal process with extensive documentation.

End product

An idea or solution, usually with a prototype, may not be tangible.

Tangible, working product (usually software) shipped to end users.

Design Sprint: A Condensed Version of Design Thinking

A design sprint is a 5-day intensive workshop where cross-functional teams aim to develop innovative solutions.

The design sprint is a very structured version of design thinking that fits into the timeline of a sprint (a sprint is a short timeframe in which agile teams work to produce deliverables). Developed by Google Ventures, the design sprint seeks to fast-track innovation.

In this video, user researcher Ditte Hvas Mortensen explains the design sprint in detail.

Learn More about Design Thinking

Design consultancy IDEO’s designkit is an excellent repository of design thinking tools and case studies.

To keep up with recent developments in design thinking, read IDEO CEO Tim Brown’s blog .

Enroll in our course Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide —an excellent guide to get you started on your design thinking projects.

Questions related to Design Thinking

You don’t need any certification to practice design thinking. However, learning about the nuances of the methodology can help you:

Pick the appropriate methods and tailor the process to suit the unique needs of your project.

Avoid common pitfalls when you apply the methods.

Better lead a team and facilitate workshops.

Increase the chances of coming up with innovative solutions.

IxDF has a comprehensive course to help you gain the most from the methodology: Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .

Anyone can apply design thinking to solve problems. Despite what the name suggests, non-designers can use the methodology in non-design-related scenarios. The methodology helps you think about problems from the end user’s perspective. Some areas where you can apply this process:

Develop new products with greater chances of success.

Address community-related issues (such as education, healthcare and environment) to improve society and living standards.

Innovate/enhance existing products to gain an advantage over the competition.

Achieve greater efficiencies in operations and reduce costs.

Use the Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide course to apply design thinking to your context today.

A framework is the basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text. There are several design thinking frameworks with slight differences. However, all the frameworks share some traits. Each framework: 

Begins with empathy.

Reframes the problem or challenge at hand.

Initially employs divergent styles of thinking to generate ideas.

Later, it employs convergent styles of thinking to narrow down the best ideas,

Creates and tests prototypes.

Iterates based on the tests.

Some of the design thinking frameworks are:

5-stage design process by d.school

7-step early traditional design process by Herbert Simon

The 5-Stage DeepDive™ by IDEO

The “Double Diamond” Design Process Model by the Design Council

Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) by Frog Design

The LUMA System of Innovation by LUMA Institute

For details about each of these frameworks, see 10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview .

IDEO’s 3-Stage Design Thinking Process consists of inspiration, ideation and implementation:

Inspire : The problem or opportunity inspires and motivates the search for a solution.

Ideate : A process of synthesis distills insights which can lead to solutions or opportunities for change.

Implement : The best ideas are turned into a concrete, fully conceived action plan.

IDEO is a leader in applying design thinking and has developed many frameworks. Find out more in 10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview .

design thinking strategies education

Design Council's Double Diamond diagram depicts the divergent and convergent stages of the design process.

Béla H. Bánáthy, founder of the White Stag Leadership Development Program, created the “divergence-convergence” model in 1996. In the mid-2000s, the British Design Council made this famous as the Double Diamond model.

The Double Diamond diagram graphically represents a design thinking process. It highlights the divergent and convergent styles of thinking in the design process. It has four distinct phases:

Discover: Initial idea or inspiration based on user needs.

Define: Interpret user needs and align them with business objectives.

Develop: Develop, iterate and test design-led solutions.

Deliver: Finalize and launch the end product into the market.

Double Diamond is one of several design thinking frameworks. Find out more in 10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview .

There are several design thinking methods that you can choose from, depending on what stage of the process you’re in. Here are a few common design thinking methods:

User Interviews: to understand user needs, pain points, attitudes and behaviors.

5 Whys Method: to dig deeper into problems to diagnose the root cause.

User Observations: to understand how users behave in real life (as opposed to what they say they do).

Affinity Diagramming: to organize research findings.

Empathy Mapping: to empathize with users based on research insights.

Journey Mapping: to visualize a user’s experience as they solve a problem.

6 Thinking Hats: to encourage a group to think about a problem or solution from multiple perspectives.

Brainstorming: to generate ideas.

Prototyping: to make abstract ideas more tangible and test them.

Dot Voting: to select ideas.

Start applying these methods to your work today with the Design Thinking template bundle .

Design Thinking

For most of the design thinking process, you will need basic office stationery:

Pen and paper

Sticky notes

Whiteboard and markers

Print-outs of templates and canvases as needed (such as empathy maps, journey maps, feedback capture grid etc.) You can also draw these out manually.

Prototyping materials such as UI stencils, string, clay, Lego bricks, sticky tapes, scissors and glue.

A space to work in.

You can conduct design thinking workshops remotely by:

Using collaborative software to simulate the whiteboard and sticky notes.

Using digital templates instead of printed canvases.

Download print-ready templates you can share with your team to practice design thinking today.

Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that helps teams better identify, understand, and solve business and customer problems.

When businesses prioritize and empathize with customers, they can create solutions catering to their needs. Happier customers are more likely to be loyal and organically advocate for the product.

Design thinking helps businesses develop innovative solutions that give them a competitive advantage.

Gain a competitive advantage in your business with Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .

Design Thinking Process Timeline

The evolution of Design Thinking can be summarised in 8 key events from the 1960s to 2004.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Herbert Simon’s 1969 book, "The Sciences of the Artificial," has one of the earliest references to design thinking. David Kelley, founder of the design consultancy IDEO, coined the term “design thinking” and helped make it popular.

For a more comprehensive discussion on the origins of design thinking, see The History of Design Thinking .

Some organizations that have employed design thinking successfully are:

Airbnb: Airbnb used design thinking to create a platform for people to rent out their homes to travelers. The company focused on the needs of both hosts and guests . The result was a user-friendly platform to help people find and book accommodations.

PillPack: PillPack is a prescription home-delivery system. The company focused on the needs of people who take multiple medications and created a system that organizes pills by date and time. Amazon bought PillPack in 2018 for $1 billion .

Google Creative Lab: Google Creative Lab collaborated with IDEO to discover how kids physically play and learn. The team used design thinking to create Project Bloks . The project helps children develop foundational problem-solving skills "through coding experiences that are playful, tactile and collaborative.”

See more examples of design thinking and learn practical methods in Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .

Innovation essentially means a new idea. Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that helps teams develop new ideas. In other words, design thinking can lead to innovation.

Human-Centered Design is a newer term for User-Centered Design

“Human-centred design is an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, and usability knowledge and techniques. This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.”

— ISO 9241-210:2019(en), ISO (the International Organization for Standardization)  

User experience expert Don Norman describes human-centered design (HCD) as a more evolved form of user-centered design (UCD). The word "users" removes their importance and treats them more like objects than people. By replacing “user” with “human,” designers can empathize better with the people for whom they are designing. Don Norman takes HCD a step further and prefers the term People-Centered Design.

Design thinking has a broader scope and takes HCD beyond the design discipline to drive innovation.

People sometimes use design thinking and human-centered design to mean the same thing. However, they are not the same. HCD is a formal discipline with a specific process used only by designers and usability engineers to design products. Design thinking borrows the design methods and applies them to problems in general.

Design Sprint condenses design thinking into a 1-week structured workshop

Google Ventures condensed the design thinking framework into a time-constrained 5-day workshop format called the Design Sprint. The sprint follows one step per day of the week:

Monday: Unpack

Tuesday: Sketch

Wednesday: Decide

Thursday: Prototype

Friday: Test

Learn more about the design sprint in Make Your UX Design Process Agile Using Google’s Methodology .

Systems Thinking is a distinct discipline with a broader approach to problem-solving

“Systems thinking is a way of exploring and developing effective action by looking at connected wholes rather than separate parts.”

— Introduction to Systems thinking, Report of GSE and GORS seminar, Civil Service Live

Both HCD and Systems Thinking are formal disciplines. Designers and usability engineers primarily use HCD. Systems thinking has applications in various fields, such as medical, environmental, political, economic, human resources, and educational systems.

HCD has a much narrower focus and aims to create and improve products. Systems thinking looks at the larger picture and aims to change entire systems.

Don Norman encourages designers to incorporate systems thinking in their work. Instead of looking at people and problems in isolation, designers must look at them from a systems point of view.

In summary, UCD and HCD refer to the same field, with the latter being a preferred phrase.

Design thinking is a broader framework that borrows methods from human-centered design to approach problems beyond the design discipline. It encourages people with different backgrounds and expertise to work together and apply the designer’s way of thinking to generate innovative solutions to problems.

Systems thinking is another approach to problem-solving that looks at the big picture instead of specific problems in isolation.

The design sprint is Google Ventures’ version of the design thinking process, structured to fit the design process in 1 week.

There are multiple design thinking frameworks, each with a different number of steps and phase names. One of the most popular frameworks is the Stanford d.School 5-stage process.

Design Thinking: A Non-Linear process. Empathy helps define problem, Prototype sparks a new idea, tests reveal insights that redefine the problem, tests create new ideas for project, learn about users (empathize) through testing.

Design thinking is an iterative and non-linear process. It contains five phases: 1. Empathize, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype and 5. Test. It is important to note the five stages of design thinking are not always sequential. They do not have to follow a specific order, and they can often occur in parallel or be repeated iteratively. The stages should be understood as different modes which contribute to the entire design project, rather than sequential steps.

For more details, see The 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process .

IDEO is a leading design consultancy and has developed its own version of the design thinking framework and adds the dimension of implementation in the process.

design thinking strategies education

IDEO’s framework uses slightly different terms than d.school’s design thinking process and adds an extra dimension of implementation. The steps in the DeepDive™ Methodology are: Understand, Observe, Visualize, Evaluate and Implement.

IDEO’s DeepDive™ Methodology includes the following steps:

Understand: Conduct research and identify what the client needs and the market landscape

Observe: Similar to the Empathize step, teams observe people in live scenarios and conduct user research to identify their needs and pain points.

Visualize: In this step, the team visualizes new concepts. Similar to the Ideate phase, teams focus on creative, out-of-the-box and novel ideas.

Evaluate: The team prototypes ideas and evaluates them. After refining the prototypes, the team picks the most suitable one.

Implement: The team then sets about to develop the new concept for commercial use.

IDEO’s DeepDive™ is one of several design thinking frameworks. Find out more in 10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview .

Answer a Short Quiz to Earn a Gift

What are the stages in the design thinking process?

  • Brainstorm, Prototype, Design, Launch, Test
  • Define, Ideate, Research, Design, Test
  • Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test

Why is empathy critical in the design thinking process?

  • It allows designers to understand and address the real needs of users.
  • It helps designers maintain control over the creative process.
  • It makes sure the solution is inexpensive and easy to create.

What is the primary purpose of the prototyping phase in design thinking?

  • To explore potential solutions and how they might work in real-world situations
  • To finalize the product design for mass production
  • To sell the idea to stakeholders with a high-fidelity (hi-fi) demonstration

What is a "wicked problem" in design thinking?

  • Problems that are complex, ill-defined and have no single correct answer.
  • Problems that are straightforward and have a clear, single solution.
  • Problems that are tricky, but can be solved quickly with conventional methods.

Why is the iterative process important in design thinking?

  • It allows design teams to use up all available resources.
  • It allows for the improvement of solutions based on user feedback and testing.
  • It makes sure the solution remains unchanged throughout development.

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Literature on Design Thinking (DT)

Here’s the entire UX literature on Design Thinking (DT) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Design Thinking (DT)

Take a deep dive into Design Thinking (DT) with our course Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .

Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple, Google, Samsung, and General Electric, have rapidly adopted the design thinking approach, and design thinking is being taught at leading universities around the world, including Stanford d.school, Harvard, and MIT. What is design thinking, and why is it so popular and effective?

Design Thinking is not exclusive to designers —all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering and business have practiced it. So, why call it Design Thinking? Well, that’s because design work processes help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way—in our designs, businesses, countries and lives. And that’s what makes it so special.

The overall goal of this design thinking course is to help you design better products, services, processes, strategies, spaces, architecture, and experiences. Design thinking helps you and your team develop practical and innovative solutions for your problems. It is a human-focused , prototype-driven , innovative design process . Through this course, you will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental phases and methods in design thinking, and you will learn how to implement your newfound knowledge in your professional work life. We will give you lots of examples; we will go into case studies, videos, and other useful material, all of which will help you dive further into design thinking. In fact, this course also includes exclusive video content that we've produced in partnership with design leaders like Alan Dix, William Hudson and Frank Spillers!

This course contains a series of practical exercises that build on one another to create a complete design thinking project. The exercises are optional, but you’ll get invaluable hands-on experience with the methods you encounter in this course if you complete them, because they will teach you to take your first steps as a design thinking practitioner. What’s equally important is you can use your work as a case study for your portfolio to showcase your abilities to future employers! A portfolio is essential if you want to step into or move ahead in a career in the world of human-centered design.

Design thinking methods and strategies belong at every level of the design process . However, design thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. What’s special about design thinking is that designers and designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques in solving problems in a creative and innovative way—in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, and in our lives.

That means that design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees , freelancers , and business leaders . It’s for anyone who seeks to infuse an approach to innovation that is powerful, effective and broadly accessible, one that can be integrated into every level of an organization, product, or service so as to drive new alternatives for businesses and society.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course. You can highlight them on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or your website .

All open-source articles on Design Thinking (DT)

What is design thinking and why is it so popular.

design thinking strategies education


Personas – A Simple Introduction

design thinking strategies education


Stage 2 in the Design Thinking Process: Define the Problem and Interpret the Results

design thinking strategies education


What is Ideation – and How to Prepare for Ideation Sessions

design thinking strategies education


Affinity Diagrams: How to Cluster Your Ideas and Reveal Insights

design thinking strategies education

  • 2 years ago

Stage 4 in the Design Thinking Process: Prototype

design thinking strategies education

  • 3 years ago

Stage 3 in the Design Thinking Process: Ideate

design thinking strategies education

  • 4 years ago

Stage 1 in the Design Thinking Process: Empathise with Your Users

design thinking strategies education

Empathy Map – Why and How to Use It

design thinking strategies education

What Is Empathy and Why Is It So Important in Design Thinking?

design thinking strategies education

10 Insightful Design Thinking Frameworks: A Quick Overview

design thinking strategies education

Define and Frame Your Design Challenge by Creating Your Point Of View and Ask “How Might We”

design thinking strategies education

Design Thinking: Get Started with Prototyping

design thinking strategies education


5 Common Low-Fidelity Prototypes and Their Best Practices

design thinking strategies education

Design Thinking: New Innovative Thinking for New Problems

design thinking strategies education

The History of Design Thinking

design thinking strategies education

Test Your Prototypes: How to Gather Feedback and Maximize Learning

design thinking strategies education

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding UX Roles and Which One You Should Go For

design thinking strategies education

Stage 5 in the Design Thinking Process: Test

design thinking strategies education

What Are Wicked Problems and How Might We Solve Them?

design thinking strategies education

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Design Thinking in Education: Perspectives, Opportunities and Challenges

The article discusses design thinking as a process and mindset for collaboratively finding solutions for wicked problems in a variety of educational settings. Through a systematic literature review the article organizes case studies, reports, theoretical reflections, and other scholarly work to enhance our understanding of the purposes, contexts, benefits, limitations, affordances, constraints, effects and outcomes of design thinking in education. Specifically, the review pursues four questions: (1) What are the characteristics of design thinking that make it particularly fruitful for education? (2) How is design thinking applied in different educational settings? (3) What tools, techniques and methods are characteristic for design thinking? (4) What are the limitations or negative effects of design thinking? The goal of the article is to describe the current knowledge base to gain an improved understanding of the role of design thinking in education, to enhance research communication and discussion of best practice approaches and to chart immediate avenues for research and practice.

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Design Thinking: Lessons for the Classroom

The art of deep, productive focus

Much has been written about changing role of the teacher from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side." Design thinking, which is a dynamic, creative and collaborative approach to problem solving, presents a unique model for educators who wish to facilitate from within the class, rather than impart knowledge to it.

The Design Thinking Process

While design thinking has its roots in the innovation/design sector, the process itself can be used anywhere. Indeed, it is a great tool for teaching 21st century skills, as participants must solve problems by finding and sorting through information, collaborating with others, and iterating their solutions based on real world, authentic experience and feedback. (It is also a great tool to develop and run a school, but that's a different post for a different day.)

I had the good fortune to participate in a collaborative workshop at the Big Ideas Fest , where we practiced design thinking with about 12 other educators over a three-day period. The idea was to give us a first-hand experience with design thinking, and to demonstrate how the model could work within the classroom.

Practitioners of design thinking have different steps depending on their needs. At BIF2011, we used these steps:

1) Identify Opportunity 2) Design 3) Prototype 4) Get Feedback 5) Scale and Spread 6) Present

In design thinking, you work through the steps together in small groups (or "Collabs" as they were called at BIF2011). Our task was to explore the question: How might we create ways to assess learning geared to making tangible progress toward meaningful goals?

With driving question in hand, each Collab is led by a trained facilitator. There are basic ground rules for working together (like saying "yes, and" rather than "yes, but" when disagreeing with someone), and using elements from improv comedy to help maintain a culture of positivity, risk-taking, support and flexibility.

This is important, as the goal is to break through the negative thinking that plagues the big, thorny issues, and to come up with one prototype idea for solving one aspect of the problem.

This right here is another novel idea! We're not tasked with fixing the whole system. This is an approach positing that small changes in the right places can have big impacts on outcome.

Six Design Thinking Steps

To solve these problems, we follow this six-step format from design thinking:

Step 1: Identify Opportunity

To deepen our understanding of the issues surrounding inadequate assessment of 21st century skills, our cohort split into two groups, each of which interviewed two educators: a public school teacher who wanted to assess soft skills in addition to state standards; and an independent school teacher who wanted a means of assessing kids that didn't interrupt their learning.

These interviews gave our group a specific goal: What system or product could we come up with to meet the needs of these two educators in assessing 21st century skills?

Step 1 in the classroom: Identify a big issue that is plaguing your school or community. Is there a fundraising challenge? A school resource issue? A civic concern or an environmental problem? You can also do a quick community needs assessment, but don't get too bogged down in this. The idea is to pick a need and move through the process. You can always iterate later.

Once you've identified your issue, invite two to three parents or other community members who are personally affected by this issue to share their perspective with your students. You can have them there in person or via Skype. Let students ask lots of questions. These are the people for whom the students will be designing solutions.

Step 2: Design Process

Here, we reviewed the stories in Step 1 and brainstormed solutions. We needed to come up with an assessment idea that was accurate and authentic, and it had to provide meaningful data to real world public school educators. With a "no idea is too stupid" mantra, we wrote brainstorms on sticky notes and posted them on a whiteboard. By the end of this process, we began to see themes emerge: it should give students feedback about where they are lacking and where they need to go; it should also be student-centered, longitudinal, with real time feedback. We organized the sticky notes into these bigger themes to prep for tomorrow.

Step 2 in the classroom: Once students have heard the issues facing their community via Step 1, give them sticky notes and pens and let them brainstorm solutions. Invite them to be inspired by each other and build off each others' ideas. Remember, no idea is too stupid! Once they've finished brainstorming, identify the main themes that have emerged, and break students into small groups to research their initial ideas. Here is where the "guide on the side" can really make a difference. The students may have some wonderfully creative but entirely impossible ideas! At this point, the teacher should guide them with real world experience to help ensure that they have a good start.

Step 3: Prototype Phase

Next, we review the themes and select one to prototype. This prototype need not solve all of the problems, just one aspect of the problem voiced by one of the speakers in Step 1. (Note the incredible discipline intrinsic in this process. At this point, we are focusing on one solution to one aspect of one problem.)

Our idea is an assessment "dashboard" called iGPS. This device would assess student progress much the same way a GPS in the car works; it pinpoints a student's current skill level, identifying target skill level along with specific waypoints to keep the student on the path to achieving the stated goal/skill level.

We used paper, markers, pipe cleaners and glue to make a prototype of our idea, which looked like a Googlemap from "where I am" to "where I need to be" plotted along a route that intersects specific skills. It was rough, but it communicated the concept.

Step 3 in the classroom: Get a bunch of creative materials together and let the groups flesh out their ideas into physical prototypes. As teams are creating, help them think through their prototypes: How will each feature help the people we interviewed in Step 1? Does this mesh with the research they did? How will the prototype work? Which materials are the best for the job?

Once they're done, tell students they're going be pitching their ideas to experts. Give them a chance to practice and refine their presentations so they're comfortable and confident!

Step 4: Feedback

Over lunch, all groups shared their prototypes to a panel of experts for feedback. All groups got to see everyone's presentations. Most prototypes were digital software tools, though not all.

Two experts from two different stakeholder groups offered their feedback: A) An educator who was looking for ways to make the idea more useful for a real-world classroom setting, and B) a social investor, who was looking to see if there was a viable market, and if the product would make a viable business.

Step 4 in the classroom: Invite people who are experts and/or stakeholders in the field to come to your school and have students present their prototypes to them. Ask each expert to review each pitch and prototype, and give students explicit feedback: what works with this idea, and what can be improved?

Step 5: Scale and Spread

Taking the feedback we received, we hone in even further on our prototype. To do this, our team breaks into four subgroups to address the questions raised. How can this assess both individual and group work? How does a student earn points (their quantifiable score)? What does the product itself look like? And finally, assuming our product is successful as an assessment tool for 21st century skills, what's the best way to market it to district administrators who will make the choice to adopt it? We answer these questions and quickly re-prototype to include these points.

Step 5 in the classroom: This step is yet another excellent opportunity to practice "guide on the side" facilitation. Help each group of students understand the feedback they got, and work with them to understand the best way to implement solutions. If there are multiple feedback points to be addressed, the groups can break into subgroups to address each point for efficiency. You might have students pick a project manager, and have all the subgroups report back to that person.

Step 6: Present

Most of the time, we go to these conferences and get fired up about all the great ideas there, and then we leave and nothing changes. The Big Ideas Fest culminated with a surprise. Three out of nine projects were selected to participate in the Big Ideas Fest in Beta, a new program which offers support to bringing these ideas to fruition. And furthermore, ISKME , the sponsor of the event, received a $50,000 matching grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support three groups with additional design workshops, access to ISKME's networks, services and other resources to help incubate their ideas.

So, after a grand total of six hours' total collaboration time, each of the nine groups had come up with some great prototypes, and three were going to get some support to build their prototypes into working products.

Step 6 in the classroom: Barring a visit from the Billionaire Fairy, you may have to get more creative for this final step. You might invite the community members you engaged in Step 1 of this process, as well as others in your school or community to hear the presentations and brainstorm actionable ways to bring the ideas to fruition in an authentic setting. You could present both in-person and online, or set up Skype calls with local businesses.

Are you using aspects of design thinking now? Or do you feel that design thinking might have a use in your classroom or school? How might it work?

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Introduction to design thinking.

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Got a problem? Design thinking can help you to create a game-changing solution. Design thinking is a way of thinking, acting, and interacting that opens a new world of problem-solving possibilities and helps you create new and innovative products, services, and processes. How? By helping you stay focused on the people you’re serving, by encouraging you to seek out and consider diverse perspectives, and by allowing you to hush your inner critic.

In this course, Jeremy Utley and Justin Ferrell will introduce you to design thinking, as they teach it every day here at the Stanford d.School. It will help you get started in your design thinking journey and will prepare you for further, more hands-on courses.

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Teaching Team

Justin Ferrell

Justin Ferrell

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Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford

Justin Ferrell joined the d.school in 2012 to redesign and direct its fellowship program. A career journalist specializing in organizational behavior and design, Justin worked for seven years at The Washington Post, most recently as the director of digital, mobile & new product design. He brought mobile designers and programmers into the newsroom, and enabled collaborative teams of reporters, editors and developers to create groundbreaking work. Also a prolific visual storyteller, Justin designed several award-winning projects — including the investigative series “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. He has spoken on creative culture and human-centered design in many venues, from the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, to the Norwegian Research Council in Oslo, to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, to Education City in Doha, Qatar. Justin teaches Stanford graduate courses in design thinking, creativity and organization design. He also teaches executive education at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and his consulting clients have included Hewlett-Packard, IDEO and Citi Ventures. He has led many innovation workshops, including sessions for Alestra, Facebook, Google, Knight Foundation, Nokia, SAP, the U.S. Department of State, The United Nations and the World Economic Forum.

Perry Klebahn

Perry Klebahn

Adjunct Professor, Director of Executive Education

When it comes to startups, corporations and executive leadership, Perry’s seen just about everything. He's a seasoned entrepreneur, product designer, chief executive and co-founding member of the d.school faculty with over 20 years of experience. He also loves math, motorcycles and making things. Perry brought two out of three of those interests to bear when he created a new category of sportswear by way of a high-performance shoe — a snowshoe — for his product design master’s thesis. He went on to found the Atlas Snowshoe Company, which remains the leader in snowshoe design and technology. Perry sold Atlas and became the head of Sales and Marketing for the clothing brand, Patagonia in 2000. He then went on to be named the CEO of the iconic bag company, Timbuk2 in 2007. Both opportunities gave him extensive experience in brand turn-around, design and innovation. Despite his years running startups and corporations, Perry’s true calling is teaching. He leverages the breadth and depth of his experience as he pushes his students to bring rigor and precision to their fast-paced design work. His students often tell him that, while they were intimidated by him during the course, they're grateful for the pressure he placed on them to exceed their own expectations. Perry is a founding teaching team member for the d.school’s startup gauntlet class, Launchpad, the innovation leadership course, d.leadership and the week-long executive education intensive, Bootcamp. He is also on the teaching teams for the personal development course, Designer in Society and the organizational change course, d.org. In every class, Perry guides his students to look back in order to discover what to do next and works from the unshakeable belief that it’s always possible to see a problem differently.

Perry is an Adjunct Professor and Director of Executive Education at the d.school. He holds a B.A. in Physics from Wesleyan University (1988) and a Master’s degree in Product Design from Stanford University (1991).

Jeremy Utley

Jeremy Utley

Adjunct Professor

Jeremy never expected to be a designer. On his 10th birthday, his father asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Jeremy replied,”I want to be one of the people who carry boxes with handles.” A little over a decade later, Jeremy became a briefcase-carrying management consultant focusing on economic development. Then, in 2008, d.school derailed him completely. His time as a student and a fellow at the d.school showed him that “how” he worked was more important than “what” he did. Today, Jeremy is dedicated to helping others along the same path to becoming a designer. He helps people change their deeply-engrained behaviors and discover, as he did, that it is possible for them to make a difference. He does this through teaching as well as through growing alongside his students to become better in his own life and work every day.

Jeremy is the Director of Executive Education at the d.school. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin’s Red McComb’s School of Business (2005) and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2009).

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Technology integration blog for teachers

Discover the 5 Simple Steps to Design Thinking in Education

Design thinking is a five-step model for creative problem solving that focuses on understanding people’s needs to develop products, services, policies, or strategies. This process finds solutions that balances what humans desire with what is possible and affordable. Design thinkers work in diverse fields including engineering, architecture, graphic design, game development , advertising, animation , video production, healthcare, and business. However, the truth is everyone is a designer at one time or another.

In fact, design thinking has a valuable place in education. It can be used to improve learning, enhance the classroom environment, shape policy, and more! Keep reading to learn how the five-step design thinking model can be used by educators to solve problems.

5 Steps in the Design Thinking Model

There are five steps to design thinking which are empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test . The model is from IDEO . IDEO provides organizations with a creative toolkit to develop unique, practical solutions.

Design thinking is not a linear process. Rather, it begins with understanding the end-user and transitions to an experimentation of ideas. This approach constantly shifts back to the needs of people to verify that the solution will meet the goal. Since schools focus on children, IDEO has resources specifically for educators to support their use of design thinking.

1. Empathize Stage

The first step in a design thinking model is to understand the end-users’ or audience’s feelings and values . This can be done through observation, interviews, or by imagining yourself as the person in the situation. Not only is practicing empathy step one, it is also the number one priority of design thinkers. In fact, the cornerstone of design thinking is that solutions should be human-centered .

If you are in an education setting the end-user might be the students, teachers, parents, or administrators. To design a solution to enhance learning it is important to understand stakeholders’ needs. Research tools such as observational checklists, polls, surveys, or interview questions are methods for gaining insight into how the school community feels or what they value. However, personal observations, informal discussions, and student work also provide vital data.

2. Define Stage

The second step is to take the insights from the Empathize Stage and use them to identify one key problem that a product, service, policy, or strategy can solve. By narrowly defining the problem, it channels all resources towards a specific goal. Phrase the problem statement from the user’s perspective. This helps to keep them as the primary focus. A recommendation is to post the problem statement in a prominent location. This way it can be referred to often throughout the design thinking process.

Consider, this fill-in-the-blank sentence as a starting point to writing a problem-statement:

[ End-users ] want [ desire ] and feel [ emotion ] because [ problem ].

The problem-statement for students might be, students want new school spirit days and feel bored because each year the same ones are scheduled. A problem-statement for teachers could be, teachers need a story time area in the library and feel frustration because there is a lack of space. A problem-statement for a parent might be, parents want their children to be safe when dropping them off in morning and feel worried because cars are not following the lane routes. And a problem-statement for an administrator could be, administrators need to improve reading test scores and feel concern because several schools have poor comprehension results in Grade 3 .

You get the idea. The definition of the problem centers on helping PEOPLE. The solution must transform a negative emotion into a positive one. Consider how a problem-statement can become a solution-statement, students have new school spirit days and feel excitement because they are going to have lots of fun . Or, administrators improved reading test scores in several schools and feel satisfaction because comprehension results are higher in Grade 3 .

3. Ideate Stage

The third step in a design thinking model is to brainstorm a variety of solutions to a problem . This is often done as a team to gain a wide range of ideas. Brainstorming can use formal techniques such as mind-mapping or word association. Alternatively, it could just be a group discussion that results in a collection of post-it notes stuck to a whiteboard.

In an education setting, the team members might be a class of students, school staff, parent committee, board of directors, community groups, or a combination of all these stakeholders. To help devise the optimal solution it is often best to include a multitude of participants. This will help to avoid personal biases or groupthink, which can limit idea generation.

Tips for Ideating

Post-problem statement.

At this stage, make sure that the data from the Empathize Stage is available for reference and post the problem-statement. This has three purposes. First, it offers an anchor to keep everyone focused on the task. Second, it provides a reference point for understanding the issue. And finally, it becomes a trigger for new ideas.

Set Aside Reflection Time

A word of advice… set aside reflection time for introverts. Extroverts love to shout out ideas and gain momentum as the energy level in the room increases. Whereas introverts often need a quiet space to consider ideas and may not be as comfortable sharing them in a large group setting. For this reason, you might want to begin the Ideate Stage by having people work independently, in pairs, or as a small group before assembling as a team.

Transcribe Ideas and Post to a Shared Location

Do not limit the Ideate Stage to only one discussion or moment. Often the best ideas come afterwards when traveling home, chatting with a friend, or sleeping. For this reason, one suggestion is to transcribe the ideas at the end of the brainstorming session and place it in a shared location. Now, team members can easily access the document to list additional ideas as they occur.

Ideating Guidelines for Design Thinking

Since the Ideate Stage is a vital part of the design thinking process, it is a good idea to establish rules for ideating. For example:

  • there are no bad ideas
  • the more ideas the better
  • imagine all possibilities
  • wild ideas are welcome
  • reserve judgement
  • set a goal for the number of ideas and then exceed it

4. Protype Stage

The fourth step as design thinkers is to pick an idea that seems feasible and create a simple model or example . If there is no viable idea, then there might be a need to return to step 2 to redefine the problem. The Prototype Stage is all about experimentation. The goal is to find issues with the design to devise a better solution.

Do not waste time creating the perfect prototype. It is not meant to be a final product. Instead, it provides a visual aid to trigger thoughts and ideas. Remember, the aim is to fix design flaws to arrive at the optimal solution. It other words, it is good to find shortcomings and mistakes. The more, the better! View this stage as a series of rough drafts.

The form of the prototype depends on the problem and solution. There isn’t just one type of prototype. In fact, there are many!

Creative Endeavor

If you are working on a creative endeavor such as a video, animation, or game the prototype could be a sketch , storyboard , or flowchart that illustrates ideas. By mapping each part of the concept, the flaws become apparent. Icons or symbols are a useful way to represent ideas. As the solution evolves, software can create a rough mock-up .

In an education setting, there are many creative endeavors that require design thinking. For example, the prototype could be a doodle of a new mascot, sequential drawings for a educational video, or an illustration of a poster to promote a school program.

Product Development or Physical Space

If the solution relates to product development or a physical space, design thinkers might create a model . The prototype could be a pencil and paper drawing. Or if the item is three-dimensional, build a sculpture with cardboard, blocks, popsicle sticks, play doh, or other materials. If the solution is an enhancement to an existing product, then modify the item itself to show design changes. At this stage, if team members are tech-savvy there are software programs that will produce a wireframe or simulation .

In a school environment there are many products or spaces that can enhance learning. For example, the prototype could be a diorama of a miniature playground structure, floor plan of a reconfigured library, or map of a new school drop-off route. There are practical ways design thinking can help educators solve existing problems.

Policy or Strategy and Design Thinking

If the solution is a new or updated policy or strategy, the protype will take the form of a working draft. It could be an outline with bulleted or numbered list, graphic organizer , slide presentation , or brief report . At this stage, getting the right phrasing is not essential. All that is required are tangible ideas to explore.

In a school setting the prototype for a policy or strategy will most likely will take the form of written or verbal communication. It could be a list of new school spirit days, recommendations for a reading program, evaluation of robotic kits, or updated safety rules at recess.

What Happens if the Prototype Fails?

Sometimes, you have a great idea…but it just doesn’t work. There are design flaws that cannot easily be overcome. The issues might be a limitation of resources, time, money, or expertise. If this happens, do not worry. In fact, this is good news! Cut your losses early and return to one of the previous steps.

5. Test Stage

The final stage in design thinking is to share the prototype with a group of peers or end-users for feedback . By this point, you have some confidence in your solution and are looking to finetune the design. It is important to refer to step 1 and 2. You want to verify that the end-user’s needs and feelings are being met.

Just as the Prototype Stage takes multiple forms, so does the Test Stage. Testing might be a product pitch, presentation with a question-and-answer period, submission of a draft report, game test, observations of user interaction, or panel review. During this phase, you are seeking more than positive feedback. In fact, constructive criticism or bugs are welcome.

What happens next? At this point in the design thinking model, there could be a decision to implement the solution. Alternatively, if the design has flaws there might be a shift to any of the previous steps. Remember design thinking is not linear!

Educators will often test a prototype by presenting the solution to a committee. This group of people will then decide about whether a solution moves forward or if it needs further enhancement. Depending on the type of problem, the concept might need to be shown to additional stakeholders to gain approval.

If the project was student-driven the test might be a submission of work to the teacher, with a reflection on strengths and weakness to the design. Evaluation includes not only the quality and creativity of the prototype, but also the depth of students’ insights.

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Ideas Made to Matter

Design thinking, explained

Rebecca Linke

Sep 14, 2017

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is an innovative problem-solving process rooted in a set of skills.The approach has been around for decades, but it only started gaining traction outside of the design community after the 2008 Harvard Business Review article [subscription required] titled “Design Thinking” by Tim Brown, CEO and president of design company IDEO.

Since then, the design thinking process has been applied to developing new products and services, and to a whole range of problems, from creating a business model for selling solar panels in Africa to the operation of Airbnb .

At a high level, the steps involved in the design thinking process are simple: first, fully understand the problem; second, explore a wide range of possible solutions; third, iterate extensively through prototyping and testing; and finally, implement through the customary deployment mechanisms. 

The skills associated with these steps help people apply creativity to effectively solve real-world problems better than they otherwise would. They can be readily learned, but take effort. For instance, when trying to understand a problem, setting aside your own preconceptions is vital, but it’s hard.

Creative brainstorming is necessary for developing possible solutions, but many people don’t do it particularly well. And throughout the process it is critical to engage in modeling, analysis, prototyping, and testing, and to really learn from these many iterations.

Once you master the skills central to the design thinking approach, they can be applied to solve problems in daily life and any industry.

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Infographic of the design thinking process

Understand the problem 

The first step in design thinking is to understand the problem you are trying to solve before searching for solutions. Sometimes, the problem you need to address is not the one you originally set out to tackle.

“Most people don’t make much of an effort to explore the problem space before exploring the solution space,” said MIT Sloan professor Steve Eppinger. The mistake they make is to try and empathize, connecting the stated problem only to their own experiences. This falsely leads to the belief that you completely understand the situation. But the actual problem is always broader, more nuanced, or different than people originally assume.

Take the example of a meal delivery service in Holstebro, Denmark. When a team first began looking at the problem of poor nutrition and malnourishment among the elderly in the city, many of whom received meals from the service, it thought that simply updating the menu options would be a sufficient solution. But after closer observation, the team realized the scope of the problem was much larger , and that they would need to redesign the entire experience, not only for those receiving the meals, but for those preparing the meals as well. While the company changed almost everything about itself, including rebranding as The Good Kitchen, the most important change the company made when rethinking its business model was shifting how employees viewed themselves and their work. That, in turn, helped them create better meals (which were also drastically changed), yielding happier, better nourished customers.

Involve users

Imagine you are designing a new walker for rehabilitation patients and the elderly, but you have never used one. Could you fully understand what customers need? Certainly not, if you haven’t extensively observed and spoken with real customers. There is a reason that design thinking is often referred to as human-centered design.

“You have to immerse yourself in the problem,” Eppinger said.

How do you start to understand how to build a better walker? When a team from MIT’s Integrated Design and Management program together with the design firm Altitude took on that task, they met with walker users to interview them, observe them, and understand their experiences.  

“We center the design process on human beings by understanding their needs at the beginning, and then include them throughout the development and testing process,” Eppinger said.

Central to the design thinking process is prototyping and testing (more on that later) which allows designers to try, to fail, and to learn what works. Testing also involves customers, and that continued involvement provides essential user feedback on potential designs and use cases. If the MIT-Altitude team studying walkers had ended user involvement after its initial interviews, it would likely have ended up with a walker that didn’t work very well for customers. 

It is also important to interview and understand other stakeholders, like people selling the product, or those who are supporting the users throughout the product life cycle.

The second phase of design thinking is developing solutions to the problem (which you now fully understand). This begins with what most people know as brainstorming.

Hold nothing back during brainstorming sessions — except criticism. Infeasible ideas can generate useful solutions, but you’d never get there if you shoot down every impractical idea from the start.

“One of the key principles of brainstorming is to suspend judgment,” Eppinger said. “When we're exploring the solution space, we first broaden the search and generate lots of possibilities, including the wild and crazy ideas. Of course, the only way we're going to build on the wild and crazy ideas is if we consider them in the first place.”

That doesn’t mean you never judge the ideas, Eppinger said. That part comes later, in downselection. “But if we want 100 ideas to choose from, we can’t be very critical.”

In the case of The Good Kitchen, the kitchen employees were given new uniforms. Why? Uniforms don’t directly affect the competence of the cooks or the taste of the food.

But during interviews conducted with kitchen employees, designers realized that morale was low, in part because employees were bored preparing the same dishes over and over again, in part because they felt that others had a poor perception of them. The new, chef-style uniforms gave the cooks a greater sense of pride. It was only part of the solution, but if the idea had been rejected outright, or perhaps not even suggested, the company would have missed an important aspect of the solution.

Prototype and test. Repeat.

You’ve defined the problem. You’ve spoken to customers. You’ve brainstormed, come up with all sorts of ideas, and worked with your team to boil those ideas down to the ones you think may actually solve the problem you’ve defined.

“We don’t develop a good solution just by thinking about a list of ideas, bullet points and rough sketches,” Eppinger said. “We explore potential solutions through modeling and prototyping. We design, we build, we test, and repeat — this design iteration process is absolutely critical to effective design thinking.”

Repeating this loop of prototyping, testing, and gathering user feedback is crucial for making sure the design is right — that is, it works for customers, you can build it, and you can support it.

“After several iterations, we might get something that works, we validate it with real customers, and we often find that what we thought was a great solution is actually only just OK. But then we can make it a lot better through even just a few more iterations,” Eppinger said.


The goal of all the steps that come before this is to have the best possible solution before you move into implementing the design. Your team will spend most of its time, its money, and its energy on this stage.

“Implementation involves detailed design, training, tooling, and ramping up. It is a huge amount of effort, so get it right before you expend that effort,” said Eppinger.

Design thinking isn’t just for “things.” If you are only applying the approach to physical products, you aren’t getting the most out of it. Design thinking can be applied to any problem that needs a creative solution. When Eppinger ran into a primary school educator who told him design thinking was big in his school, Eppinger thought he meant that they were teaching students the tenets of design thinking.

“It turns out they meant they were using design thinking in running their operations and improving the school programs. It’s being applied everywhere these days,” Eppinger said.

In another example from the education field, Peruvian entrepreneur Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor hired design consulting firm IDEO to redesign every aspect of the learning experience in a network of schools in Peru. The ultimate goal? To elevate Peru’s middle class.

As you’d expect, many large corporations have also adopted design thinking. IBM has adopted it at a company-wide level, training many of its nearly 400,000 employees in design thinking principles .

What can design thinking do for your business?

The impact of all the buzz around design thinking today is that people are realizing that “anybody who has a challenge that needs creative problem solving could benefit from this approach,” Eppinger said. That means that managers can use it, not only to design a new product or service, “but anytime they’ve got a challenge, a problem to solve.”

Applying design thinking techniques to business problems can help executives across industries rethink their product offerings, grow their markets, offer greater value to customers, or innovate and stay relevant. “I don’t know industries that can’t use design thinking,” said Eppinger.

Ready to go deeper?

Read “ The Designful Company ” by Marty Neumeier, a book that focuses on how businesses can benefit from design thinking, and “ Product Design and Development ,” co-authored by Eppinger, to better understand the detailed methods.

Register for an MIT Sloan Executive Education course:

Systematic Innovation of Products, Processes, and Services , a five-day course taught by Eppinger and other MIT professors.

  • Leadership by Design: Innovation Process and Culture , a two-day course taught by MIT Integrated Design and Management director Matthew Kressy.
  • Managing Complex Technical Projects , a two-day course taught by Eppinger.
  • Apply for M astering Design Thinking , a 3-month online certificate course taught by Eppinger and MIT Sloan senior lecturers Renée Richardson Gosline and David Robertson.

Steve Eppinger is a professor of management science and innovation at MIT Sloan. He holds the General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Chair and has a PhD from MIT in engineering. He is the faculty co-director of MIT's System Design and Management program and Integrated Design and Management program, both master’s degrees joint between the MIT Sloan and Engineering schools. His research focuses on product development and technical project management, and has been applied to improving complex engineering processes in many industries.

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How Can Design Thinking Support the Studio Process in Your Classroom?

lightbulb with rainbow crumpled paper

The art room is a magical place where ideas come to life. We want students to create beautiful artworks. We want students to learn about different mediums, techniques, and processes. We want them to have fun while learning to appreciate art. We want students to build visual literacy and communication skills.

But do we want more for our students?

How can we instill authentic learning that will follow them beyond the art room? How can we challenge students to be creative problem solvers no matter what field they pursue?

We can start by highlighting design thinking in our curriculums.

lightbulb with rainbow crumpled paper

What is design thinking?

Fundamentally, design thinking is a process to solve problems. It is a concept centered around applying creativity and innovation to our actions, decision-making, and problem-solving. As a concept, design thinking can be used to enhance our teaching practices. It can also empower student learning and artmaking.

5 main steps comprise the design thinking process :

The 5 main steps are further grouped into three I’s:

  • Inspiration
  • Implementation

downloadable resource

Breaking down the design thinking process into the five steps and three I’s helps identify the correlation to the art room. You probably recognize these steps as you already include them in your classroom. For a deeper dive into the steps, check out the AOEU course Innovation Through Design .

To make the learning process meaningful, we need to focus on it in a student-friendly way. For instance, let’s say students are designing texture tools for clay.

clay slab with stamps

Here is a concrete example of the design thinking process at work:

  • Empathize: Students notice there are limited options to create unique textures on clay with the provided tools and stamps.
  • Define: Students struggle to find unique and interesting ways to add texture to their clay projects. The solution is for students to create their own clay texture tools to create distinctive designs.
  • Ideate: Students sketch and research to develop concrete ideas that solve this problem. The only bad ideas are no ideas.
  • Prototype: Based on their sketches, students construct texture tools. Students try a variety of materials and forms to find the best solution.
  • Test and Share: Students test their texture tools on different clay forms. Students share the tools with their peers to get additional feedback. 

As students go through the stages, they may need to revisit a step. As mentioned earlier, the design thinking process is not linear. Because it encourages revision and developing many ideas, sometimes a student might need to go back to a step several times.

How does design thinking impact our classroom?

Design thinking is something we all do in our classrooms—it’s a natural part of the studio process. We don’t always call it “design thinking” or take the time to spell it out to our students.

Design thinking supports the studio experience by:

  • Encouraging innovation.
  • Allowing for purposeful creation.
  • Providing students the space to reach their own outcome.
  • Promoting revision.
  • Balancing the final result with the process.
  • Showing there are many answers to a problem.

Art is all about creative and critical problem solving, and design thinking is a framework that aligns well. It facilitates students making art to answer a question or solve a problem in an open-ended, student-led environment.

Design thinking may look different in one classroom compared to another, and that’s okay! It is not a one-size-fits-all approach and must be adapted to fit each individual classroom’s needs.

What is your role as the teacher?

One of the main components of a powerful design thinking experience is that students create their own outcomes. Students take ownership of their artwork when they select the medium, subject matter, and method. When teachers make these decisions all the time, they decide the problems students need to solve. When we take a backseat and facilitate the design thinking process, students take responsibility for their own learning. They also get more out of the experience.

How do I get started with design thinking?

student creating sand art in plastic bin

The key is to start simple. One of the best ways to begin implementing design thinking into your art room is through design challenges. Even though design challenges are heavily rooted in engineering and STEM concepts, they are a great tool to spark creativity and innovation.

Here are 6 art-based design challenges to bring design thinking into your classroom:

  • Design Thinking: Artists Solve Problems
  • 3 Art Challenges that are Perfect for the End of the Year
  • Why You Should Incorporate Art Challenges in Your Room This School Year 
  • How to Run a Design Challenge 
  • Why You Should Create a Mystery Bag Art Challenge 
  • 3 Awesome Art Challenges for the First Week of School

Another way to get started with design thinking is to register for AOEU’s course, Innovation Through Design . In this course, you will learn more about the five stages of design thinking and how to incorporate them into your teaching practice.

Teaching design thinking is a powerful way to support the studio experience in your classroom. It also gives students valuable and tangible skills they can apply to any field once they walk out of your room. Design thinking also encourages students to take ownership of their learning and make it a more authentic experience. This year, integrate a few moments in your lessons to feature the five stages and try out some design challenges.

How do you use the design thinking process in your art room?

What questions do you have about design thinking?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

design thinking strategies education

Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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What is design thinking?

Discover what is design thinking and why it’s important, including the five stages of design thinking. Deep dive into a few case studies and learn how to apply design thinking.

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Design thinking is a mindset that breeds innovation. While it’s based on the design process, anyone in any profession can use it when they’re trying to come up with creative solutions to a problem. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what design thinking is and why it’s important, including the five stages of design thinking. Then we’ll present a couple of design thinking case studies and wrap up with a primer on how to apply design thinking. And don’t worry, this guide is broken down into easily digestible chunks, as follows:

Let’s get started!

What is design thinking? A definition

Design thinking is an approach used for problem-solving. Both practical and creative, it’s anchored by human-centred design.

Design thinking is extremely user-centric in that it focuses on your users before it focuses on things like technology or business metrics. 

Design thinking is also solution-based, looking for effective solutions to problems, not problem-based, which looks at the problem itself and tends to focus on limitations. 

Design thinking is all about getting hands-on with solutions. The aim is to quickly turn your ideas into testable products so you can see what works and what doesn’t.


Why is design thinking important? 

Design thinking is important because it challenges assumptions and fosters innovation. While many ways of thinking rely on the habits and experiences we’ve formed, they can limit us when it comes to thinking of design solutions. Design thinking, however, encourages us to explore new ideas. 

It’s an actionable technique that allows us to tackle “wicked problems,” or problems that are ill-defined. For example, achieving sustainable growth or maintaining your competitive edge in business count as wicked problems, and on a broader scale, poverty and climate change are wicked problems too. Design thinking uses empathy and human-centred thinking to tackle these kinds of problems.

Who uses design thinking?

The short answer? Everyone! Design thinking can help you in whatever your role or industry. People in business, government, entertainment, health care, and every other industry can benefit from using design thinking to come up with innovative solutions. 

The most important thing design thinking does is help people focus on their customers or end users. Instead of focusing on problems to fix, design thinking keeps things user-centric, which boosts customer engagement. 

What are the 5 stages of design thinking?

According to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (known as d-school), the five stages of design thinking are: 

Although these stages appear to be linear, following one after the other, design thinking isn’t a linear process. Stages are often run in parallel or out of order, or repeated when necessary.

Phase 1: Empathise 

Your goal here is to research your users’ needs to gain an empathic understanding of the problems they face. You’ll get to know your users and their wants and needs so you can make sure your solutions put them front and centre. This means setting aside your own assumptions and getting to know your users on a psychological and emotional level. You’ll observe, engage, watch and listen. 

Phase 2: Define

Here you state your users’ needs by compiling the information you gathered during the Empathise phase and then analysing it until you can define the core problem your team has identified. 

You do this by asking questions like: what patterns do you see in the data? What user issues need to be resolved? The conclusion of this phase comes when you’ve figured out a clear problem statement that is defined by the users’ needs. For example, “Bank customers in Glasgow need…”

You can learn more about how to write a problem statement in this guide.

Phase 3: Ideate

In this phase, you’ll generate ideas and solutions. You and your team will hold ideation sessions where you can come up with as many ideas as possible. No idea is too silly for this stage. The important thing is getting all ideas out on the table. There are a variety of techniques you can use, like brainstorming and mind mapping, to come up with solutions. This phase ends when you’ve managed to narrow down your ideas to just a few of the best ones.

Phase 4: Prototype

Your goal in this phase is to find the best solution to the problem by prototyping —that is, producing scaled down versions of the product or its features found in the previous phase. You’ll put each solution to the test by improving, redesigning, accepting, or rejecting it.

Phase 5: Test

Here you’ll try out the solutions you arrived at in the previous phases by user testing them. However, while this is the final stage of design thinking in theory, it’s rarely the final stage in reality. Design thinking often includes going back to previous phases to find other solutions or to further iterate or refine your existing solution.


Design thinking examples and case studies

Now that you understand the theory and process of design thinking, let’s look at some examples in action where design thinking had a real-world impact.

Case Study 1: American Family Insurance’s Moonrise App

American Family Insurance, a company that offers life, business, auto, and home insurance, came to design company IDEO with the goal of innovating in a way that would help working families. 

Stages 1 & 2: Empathise and Define

While American Family thought their customers might benefit from budgeting tools, IDEO found from their research in the Empathise phase that, actually, people needed a way to build up their savings against unforeseen needs.

They noticed a lot of people had meticulously planned budgets, which made budgeting tools a moot point. But they were living just within their means and an extra expense, like a doctor’s visit or kid’s basketball uniform, could throw their budget off. These people didn’t want to take on debt though, they wanted extra work so they could have a cushion.

Stages 3 & 4: Ideate and Prototype

IDEO took that idea and ran with it, creating Moonrise, an app that matches people looking for work with extra hours and income. Today’s businesses depend on on-demand work but the temp agencies they work with tend to want permanent placements. Moonrise does things differently. It enables companies to find people who are already employed elsewhere for short-term work through a simple text message interface. The employers can list shifts on the platform and workers are paid as soon as they finish their shifts.

Stage 5: Test

To test the app, 11 Moonrisers, six employers, and a team of designers and programmers were assembled for a one week period to work out the kinks in the platform. 

Based on the test’s success, American Family Insurance now owns the startup Moonrise, which launched in Chicago in 2018 and has since expanded to additional states. In 2018, over 7,000 shifts have been fulfilled and over $500,000 has been earned by people on the app.

Case Study 2: GE Healthcare’s Scanning Tools

GE Healthcare has cutting-edge diagnostic imaging tools at its disposal, but for kids they’re an unpleasant experience. 

“The room itself is kind of dark and has those flickering fluorescent lights…. That machine that I had designed basically looked like a brick with a hole in it,” explained Doug Dietz , a designer who worked for GE. How could they make the experience better for kids?

The team at GE began by observing and gaining empathy for children at a daycare centre and talking to specialists who knew what paediatric patients went through. The team then recruited experts from a children’s museum and doctors from two hospitals. This gave them a lot of insight into what children went through when they had to sit for these procedures and what could be done to lessen the children’s stress.

Stages 3, 4 & 5: Ideate, Prototype, and Test

The first prototype of the new and improved “Adventure Series” scanner was invented. Through research and pilot programs, the redesign made imaging machines more child-friendly, making sure they have other things to focus on than the scary looks and sounds of the machine. For example, the Coral City Adventure in the emergency room gives children an underwater experience where they get into a yellow submarine and listen to the sound of harps while their procedure takes place.

Patient satisfaction scores increased to 90% and children no longer suffer such anxiety about their scans. The children hold still for their procedures more easily, making repeats of the scans unnecessary. There’s also less need for anesthesiologists, which improved the bottom line for those hospitals that used the scanning machines because more patients could get scanned each day.

How to apply design thinking 

If you want to apply design thinking in your own work, follow these steps and best practices:

  • Improve design thinking skills. Use training to explain, improve, and practically implement the phases of design thinking. You can do this in several ways such as workshops, online courses, or case studies shared with your team.
  • Identify the correct problem. Listen to users and ask them unbiased questions in order to understand their perspectives. Engage with everyone and stay open-minded, so you can identify the correct problem, not the problem you or your organisation thinks users are having. 
  • Have more debriefs. Be open about what went right and what went wrong in your process. Openly discuss why things succeeded or failed and why. View failure as learning, not as an excuse to give up.
  • Iterate and iterate some more. The goal of design thinking is finding the best answer possible—and that probably won’t come in the first round of iteration. You’ll need to test and iterate as much as possible with new ways to solve the problem.

Design thinking is so popular—and so effective—because it places the user’s needs front and centre. For more user-centric design tips, learn how to incorporate user feedback in product design , get to grips with user research ethics , and learn how to conduct effective user interviews .

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Design Thinking: How it works [Theory, Practice & Examples]

So you’ve heard of Design Thinking , but it sounds a bit like hocus-pocus? Imagine standing at the entrance of a sleek, futuristic museum, greeted by a door that refuses to budge. Frustration mounts as you struggle to figure out how to open it, but then, a child approaches, effortlessly pushes the door, and you follow suit, feeling a blend of awe and embarrassment. That moment captures the essence of design thinking—a concept that, like that perplexing door, may initially seem locked, yet holds the key to unlocking innovation, creativity, and problem-solving potential in today’s complex world. In a hurry? Skip the theory and get straight to the 5 stages of design thinking .

woman during the process of design thinking

Design thinking, a term that has surged in popularity, transcends the realm of aesthetics and reaches into the very core of how we tackle challenges , both big and small. It’s a methodology that isn’t confined to designers alone but is a powerful tool for anyone seeking novel solutions, whether in business, education, healthcare, or even personal life. Design thinking isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a dynamic and transformative approach that promises to reshape how we approach problems and create solutions.

Design Thinking: A Definition

Design thinking is a transformative problem-solving approach that puts human needs and experiences at its core. At its essence, it’s a structured methodology that empowers individuals and organizations to tackle complex challenges by fostering empathy, creativity, and innovation. Unlike traditional problem-solving methods, design thinking is not confined to a linear path; instead, it encourages dynamic and iterative thinking to arrive at innovative solutions (see also: Innovation Management ).

Historical Background

To truly grasp the significance of design thinking, it’s essential to delve into its historical roots. The concept finds its origins in the mid-20th century, primarily within the field of industrial design. Visionaries like Herbert A. Simon and L. Bruce Archer were among the early proponents of this methodology, emphasizing the importance of user-centered design . Over the decades, design thinking evolved, incorporating insights from various disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, and business. It gained prominence in the corporate world thanks to influential figures like David Kelley of IDEO and the Stanford d.school, which helped popularize and formalize the design thinking process we know today.

Design Thinking Core Principles

  • Empathy : Design thinking starts with deep empathy for the end-user. This means understanding their needs, desires, and pain points on a profound level. Empathy forms the foundation upon which innovative solutions are built.
  • Iteration : Design thinking embraces the idea that the first solution is rarely the best one. It encourages continuous refinement and iteration of ideas through prototyping and testing. This iterative process allows for the discovery of unexpected insights and improvements.
  • User-Centricity : The user is the focal point of the entire design thinking process. Solutions are not imposed from the top down; they emerge organically from an understanding of the user’s perspective and needs.
  • Collaboration : Design thinking thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration . It brings together individuals with diverse skills and perspectives to foster creative problem-solving.

These principles, combined with a structured framework, make design thinking a potent methodology for addressing a wide range of challenges , from designing user-friendly products to solving complex organizational problems.

The Stages of Design Thinking

While Design Thinking is often described as a mindset, at it’s core it is a five step process.

5 stages of design thinking infographic

Stage I: Empathize

The journey of design thinking commences with a crucial first step— empathy . In this initial stage, designers and problem-solvers immerse themselves in the world of the end-user, seeking to understand their needs , desires, and challenges on a profound level. This isn’t a casual observation – it’s a deep dive into the user’s experiences. Empathy involves conducting interviews, surveys, and even shadowing users in their daily routines. The goal? To gain insights that go beyond what’s explicitly stated—to uncover the unspoken, the latent, and the emotions that influence user behavior. Empathy is the bedrock upon which the entire design thinking process rests, for it’s from this wellspring of understanding that innovative solutions emerge. If you want to learn more about understanding different personalities, take our DISC-Test.

Stage II: Define

With a wealth of empathetic insights in hand, the next stage is to distill these observations into a clear and concise problem statement . What are the specific challenges and pain points that need to be addressed? Defining the problem is a pivotal moment in the design thinking process because it frames the entire journey. It’s about reframing the issue to focus on what truly matters to the user. This stage requires a delicate balance of precision and creativity—precision in articulating the problem, and creativity in reframing it to inspire fresh ideas.

Stage III: Ideate

Now, armed with a well-defined problem, the design thinking process enters the ideation stage —a veritable playground for creative brainstorming. Here, the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality, as the goal is to generate a broad spectrum of ideas, no matter how wild or unconventional they may seem. Ideation sessions often involve cross-functional teams engaging in free-flowing discussions, sketching, and mind mapping . It’s in this stage that the magic of creativity takes flight, and seemingly impossible solutions begin to take shape.

Stage IV: Prototype

Ideation is a boundless landscape of possibilities, but to transform these concepts into tangible solutions, the process moves to prototyping . Prototypes are simplified representations of the envisioned solutions, ranging from paper sketches to interactive mock-ups. The purpose of prototyping is to bring ideas to life in a tangible form that can be tested and refined. It’s an essential step to bridge the gap between abstract concepts and real-world applicability. Prototypes serve as a canvas for experimentation and iteration, allowing designers to uncover flaws, make improvements, and fine-tune their solutions.

Stage V: Test!

The final stage of design thinking is where ideas are put to the test in the real world . Testing involves presenting prototypes to the end-users and gathering their feedback . This user-centric approach ensures that the proposed solutions align with the users’ needs and expectations. The feedback loop is iterative, often leading back to the ideation and prototyping stages as insights are gained. This process of testing and refinement continues until the most suitable and effective solution emerges, ready to address the defined problem effectively.

In these stages, design thinking transforms from a theoretical concept into a hands-on, user-driven methodology that fosters innovation and creative problem-solving. Each stage plays a vital role in the iterative process that leads to meaningful solutions.

Design Thinking Examples & Benefits

To truly appreciate the transformative power of design thinking, let’s turn to real-world examples where this methodology has reshaped industries and solved complex problems.

Case Studies

One such shining example comes from Airbnb . In its early days, Airbnb faced a significant challenge: how to establish trust between hosts and guests in the sharing economy. By applying design thinking principles, they delved deep into the user experience, empathizing with both hosts and guests. They introduced features like user profiles, reviews, and a secure payment system, all aimed at fostering trust and confidence. This approach not only propelled Airbnb’s growth but also revolutionized the hospitality industry.

Another compelling case is that of the healthcare giant, Mayo Clinic . In an industry fraught with complexities and patient-centric challenges, Mayo Clinic turned to design thinking to improve patient experiences. They revamped waiting areas, redesigned appointment scheduling, and introduced user-friendly mobile apps for patients to access their medical records. These innovations not only improved patient satisfaction but also enhanced the overall quality of care.

Benefits of the Design Thinking Process

Design thinking isn’t just a methodology; it’s a mindset that empowers individuals and organizations to navigate the complexities of our modern world effectively. Its benefits extend far beyond problem-solving and innovation, permeating into the very fabric of how we approach challenges and create solutions:

  • Fosters Innovation : Design thinking places the user at the core of problem-solving, encouraging innovative thinking that leads to groundbreaking solutions.
  • Promotes Adaptability : In an ever-changing world, design thinking equips organizations with the ability to pivot and evolve in response to shifting market dynamics and customer preferences.
  • Enhanced User Satisfaction : Whether in product design or service delivery, design thinking ensures that solutions precisely meet user needs and expectations, resulting in happier and more loyal customers.
  • Encourages Collaboration : Design thinking fosters a culture of collaboration among multidisciplinary teams, promoting teamwork and creativity.

Read more about the benefits in this review of educational research: Having good design thinking skills can assist in solving really complex problems.

salary differences by design thinking skills infographic

Challenges and Criticisms

illustrated thinking process

While design thinking has garnered widespread acclaim, it’s not immune to criticism, and one prevalent concern is the risk of over-hyping. In the rush to embrace this transformative approach, there’s a danger of viewing it as a panacea for all organizational challenges. Design thinking, like any methodology, has its limitations. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and not every problem requires a design thinking approach. Over-hyping can create unrealistic expectations , leading to disappointment when results fall short. It’s essential to strike a balance between recognizing design thinking’s potential and acknowledging its boundaries.

Implementation Challenges

Implementing design thinking within organizations can be a journey fraught with challenges. Resistance to change is a common stumbling block. Employees accustomed to traditional problem-solving methods may find it challenging to adapt to the iterative and user-centric nature of design thinking. Another challenge is the need for time and resources . Design thinking, when done right, demands investment in research, prototyping, and user testing, which can strain budgets and schedules. Additionally, maintaining a consistent commitment to the process throughout the organization can be difficult. Without leadership support and a culture that encourages experimentation and learning from failures, design thinking initiatives may falter. Addressing these challenges requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to ensure that design thinking becomes ingrained in the organizational DNA .

How to Incorporate Design Thinking

Design thinking isn’t reserved for designers alone – it’s a mindset that anyone can cultivate to enhance problem-solving skills and drive innovation in their work and daily lives.

Practical tips for individuals

  • Start with Empathy : Whether you’re designing a product or tackling a personal challenge, begin by understanding the needs and perspectives of those involved. Ask questions, actively listen , and put yourself in their shoes.
  • Embrace Iteration : Don’t settle for the first solution that comes to mind. Be open to refining and iterating on your ideas. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Diverse Perspectives : Seek input from people with different backgrounds and viewpoints. Collaborative brainstorming can lead to more creative and effective solutions.
  • Prototype and Test : Even in non-design contexts, consider creating prototypes or mock-ups to visualize your ideas. Test them with potential users or stakeholders to gather feedback.
  • User-Centric Approach : Always prioritize the end-user or recipient of your work. Your solutions should address their needs and provide value.

Organizational Integration

To foster a design thinking culture within organizations, several steps can be taken:

  • Leadership Buy-In : Leaders should champion the adoption of design thinking, setting an example for the rest of the organization. They should communicate its value and allocate resources for its implementation (see also “ Leadership test “)
  • Training and Education : Offer design thinking training and workshops to employees at all levels. Equip them with the skills and knowledge to apply design thinking methodologies.
  • Cross-Functional Teams : Encourage collaboration across different departments and disciplines. Create teams that bring together diverse skills and perspectives for problem-solving.
  • Design Thinking Spaces : Designate physical or virtual spaces where employees can brainstorm, prototype, and test ideas. These spaces should be conducive to creativity and collaboration.
  • Reward Innovation : Recognize and reward employees who contribute innovative ideas and solutions through design thinking. Create incentives for innovation and risk-taking.
  • Feedback and Continuous Improvement : Establish mechanisms for collecting feedback on design thinking initiatives. Use this feedback to refine processes and adapt to evolving needs.

By following these steps, individuals can harness the power of design thinking in their personal and professional lives, while organizations can create an environment where design thinking thrives, leading to innovative solutions and a more agile , customer-centric approach.

It’s worth emphasizing that design thinking holds greater importance than ever before. It equips individuals and organizations with the tools to navigate change effectively , foster innovation, and create solutions that prioritize the needs of users, transcending disciplinary boundaries.

Consider embracing design thinking in your own context . Whether you’re seeking solutions in your daily life or aiming to cultivate a culture of creativity within your organization, the key lies in embracing empathy, collaboration, and a willingness to experiment. These qualities unlock the potential of design thinking.

In the words of the iconic designer and innovator Steve Jobs , “ Design is how it works .” Let design thinking be the guiding light in our intricate world, where innovation and user-centric solutions pave the path forward. Its enduring relevance underscores our innate capacity to create, adapt, and thrive .

You might also be interested in: Pareto Concept – Why it still works!

Additional Resources

For readers eager to dive deeper into the world of design thinking, there is a wealth of resources available to further your understanding and expertise:

  • “ Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation ” by Idris Mootee: This book offers a strategic perspective on design thinking and its application in business.
  • “ Change by Design ” by Tim Brown: Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, provides valuable insights into the design thinking process and its potential for innovation.
  • “ The Design Thinking Playbook ” by Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link, and Larry Leifer: A comprehensive guide to practical design thinking methods and tools.
  • IDEO U ( https://www.ideou.com/ ): IDEO U offers online courses and resources on design thinking, innovation, and leadership.
  • Stanford d.school ( https://dschool.stanford.edu/ ): Explore Stanford University’s d.school website for design thinking tools, case studies, and free resources.
  • Nielsen Norman Group ( https://www.nngroup.com/ ): The Nielsen Norman Group offers valuable insights and research on user-centered design and usability.
  • Coursera Design Thinking Specialization : This series of courses offered by the University of Virginia on Coursera provides a comprehensive understanding of design thinking principles and their application.
  • edX Design Thinking MicroMasters Program : This program by Rochester Institute of Technology on edX covers design thinking, innovation, and leadership.

VIDEO: Doreen Lorenzo about Design Thinking (TedTalk)

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The consideration of economic, environmental and social impacts that result from design solutions are core to design thinking.

Design thinking:

  • methods can be used when trying to understand a problem, generate ideas and refine a design based on evaluation and testing
  • is intrinsically linked to the skills of design and production.

The design thinking video (6:27) explains design thinking using the NSW Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus. It includes a real-world example of design thinking from Stage 2 following the empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test model.

Transcript of Design thinking

The new Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus was released by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) in 2017. This resource is designed to support teachers' knowledge and understanding of the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus, in particular, the inclusion of four thinking skills.

These thinking skills are computational thinking, design thinking, scientific thinking and systems thinking. These four thinking skills encompass the productive, purposeful and intentional thinking that underpins effective learning in science and technology. This video will explore the thinking skill design thinking and how it is embedded in the new Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus.

[Table with cells coloured to indicate where opportunities to embed design thinking are found in the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus across particular stages and content strands. Design thinking can be embedded in:

  • living world and material world from Early Stage 1 to Stage 3
  • physical world in Stage 1 and Stage 3
  • Earth and space from Stage 1 to Stage 3
  • digital technologies in Early Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3.]

As the table shows, design thinking skills are embedded within various content strands of the new Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus. Opportunities to embed design thinking skills are identified by the DesT abbreviation after individual syllabus dot points. So what is design thinking?

Design thinking is a process where a need or opportunity is identified and a design solution is developed. The consideration of economic, environmental and social impacts that result from design solutions are core to design thinking. Design thinking methods can be used when trying to understand a problem, generate ideas and refine a design based on evaluation and testing. Design thinking is intrinsically linked to the skills of design and production.

Consider the following professions: an architect, an app developer and a furniture designer. On the surface, it would seem these professions have little in common. However, the one unifying factor is that each of them utilise design thinking in their roles.

Whilst this design thinking might differ slightly between each of these professions, they will essentially follow the same basic steps. These steps are: empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test. Let’s look at a classroom example of design thinking from Stage 2.

Freya and Olivia love playing dice games in mathematics.

[Empathise – ST2-2DP-T: critique needs or opportunities for designing solutions through evaluating products and processes]

The only issue is that the dice make too much noise when rolled on the desk. Some students in the class are sensitive to this loud noise and to accommodate them, the class play dice games on the carpet. With the whole class on the floor, however, things can become a little crowded. Freya and Olivia feel that everyone would be more comfortable if they could spread out and play dice games at their desks.

To understand their audience better, Freya and Olivia survey their teacher and other students in their class.

[Define – ST2-2DP-T: define a need or opportunity according to functional and aesthetic criteria]

They discover that most people feel a similar way about the dice problem. Students would like to play dice games at their desks but understand the need to play on the floor.

Freya and Olivia are beginning to define their problem. The noisy dice have created congestion on the floor during some mathematics lessons.

[Define – ST2-2DP-T: investigate and research materials, components, tools and techniques to produce design solutions]

They conduct some internet research looking at the history of dice, how dice are made and the materials used to make dice in order to better understand the problem. They also use a decibel meter app to measure the loudness of the dice when rolled on the desk.

Now that Freya and Olivia feel that they have a good understanding of their problem, they move to the ideate phase.

[Ideate – ST2-2DP-T: develop, record and communicate design ideas and decisions using appropriate technical terms.]

They spend some time brainstorming solutions, writing down as many ideas as they can come up with to solve the problem. At this stage, they don’t judge their ideas.

Even if an idea seems silly or impossible, they still write it down. They choose one idea to explore further.

Freya and Olivia develop a design for a soundproof box that they can use to roll the dice.

[Ideate ST2-2DP-T: produce labelled and annotated drawings including digital graphic representations]

They draw sketches and eventually use digital software to develop blueprints which will guide the building of their product.

[Prototype – ST2-2DP-T: plan a sequence of production steps when producing designed solutions individually and collaboratively]

Freya and Olivia then spend the next few lessons building a prototype, a basic version of their product. They make sure to follow their blueprints as closely as possible.

During the next mathematics lesson, Freya and Olivia test the prototype.

[Test – ST2-2DP-T: critique needs or opportunities for designing solutions through evaluating products and processes]

They use the same decibel meter app to measure the loudness of rolling dice in their soundproof box and compare it to their original measurement. Whilst their soundproof box reduces the overall loudness of the dice, Freya and Olivia decide to try a variety of different materials inside the box to further soften the sound.

[Test – ST2-2DP-T: investigate and research materials, components, tools and techniques to produce design solutions]

Unfortunately, none of the materials they try reduce the sound to a level they are happy with. In addition, they are also having problems seeing into the box which makes reading the dice quite difficult. The students return to the ideate phase to consider alternative design options.

Eventually, Freya and Olivia settle on a design to create dice out of a shapeable, lightweight foam material which doesn’t require a box. They have much better success with this second design.

As the previous example demonstrates, design thinking is rarely linear or simple. Steps sometimes need to be revisited in order to move forward with a design. Using design thinking, Freya and Olivia were able to successfully create a solution to a real-world problem. In fact, here’s a photo of their finished product which they called ‘Silent dice’.

Design thinking is an important thinking skill that is utilised by people in a variety of professional industries. Equipping students with this thinking skill will give them a flexible framework for solving real-world problems.

The science and technology page on the NSW Department of Education website contains additional syllabus implementation support materials for teachers, including professional development opportunities. If you would like further information about syllabus implementation, please contact the science and technology K-6 curriculum team on the details below.

[Science and technology K-6 curriculum support. [email protected]. education.nsw.gov.au/science]

[This video features the song “Little Idea” by Bensound. copyright © 2019 licensed under a Creative Commons License Attribution-NoDerivs (3.0) license. https://www.bensound.com ]

[ Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017]

[End of transcript.]

Definition © 2017 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

More Design Thinking Examples for Students

More Design Thinking Examples for Students

This is a follow on article to our original article "5 Design Thinking Examples for Students" .

Redesigning the Classroom Layout: Design thinking can be used to reimagine the physical layout of a classroom to optimize the learning environment. Students can collaborate, conduct research, and brainstorm ideas on how to rearrange desks, create flexible seating options, or incorporate interactive technology to enhance engagement and foster a more conducive learning atmosphere.

Student-Led Innovation Projects: Design thinking can empower students to identify and solve problems they encounter in their daily lives. Students can apply the design thinking process to brainstorm, prototype, and iterate on solutions for issues such as reducing waste, improving school transportation, or enhancing accessibility within the school premises.

Designing a Student Support System: Design thinking can be applied to create a student support system that addresses the diverse needs of learners. Students can collaborate with teachers, administrators, and counselors to identify pain points and develop innovative solutions, such as designing an online platform for academic resources, implementing peer mentoring programs, or creating a feedback mechanism for student concerns.

Redesigning Educational Materials: Students can use design thinking to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of educational materials. They can analyze existing textbooks, websites, or digital resources and ideate on ways to make the content more engaging, interactive, and inclusive. This might involve designing infographics, videos, or interactive quizzes to enhance comprehension and retention.

Enhancing School Community Engagement: Design thinking can help students collaborate with their peers, teachers, and community members to address challenges and improve the school community. Students can design initiatives, such as organizing community events, creating recycling programs, or developing projects that promote inclusivity and cultural understanding within the school environment.

Designing a Sustainable School Garden: Students can apply design thinking principles to create a sustainable school garden that promotes environmental awareness, healthy eating habits, and hands-on learning. They can ideate, prototype, and iterate on garden layouts, irrigation systems, composting methods, and plant selection. Reference: "Design Thinking and Sustainable School Garden Education" by Brittany N. Juhnke et al., Sustainability Journal.

Redesigning School Lunch: Students can collaborate to reimagine the school lunch experience by applying design thinking. They can conduct research on nutrition, food preferences, and sustainability, and then develop innovative solutions for menu planning, food sourcing, waste reduction, and creating an inviting dining environment. Reference: "Design Thinking and School Lunch: Engaging Students in Healthful Decision Making" by Jessica Levine et al., Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Creating Inclusive Playground Equipment: Students can use design thinking to design inclusive playground equipment that accommodates children with different abilities. They can empathize with diverse users, brainstorm inclusive play structures, and develop prototypes that promote accessibility, social interaction, and fun for all. Reference: "Design Thinking for Inclusive Playgrounds: Engaging Children and Their Perspectives" by Julia King et al., Children, Youth and Environments Journal.

Designing a Community Recycling Program: Students can apply design thinking to develop a community recycling program that encourages waste reduction and recycling behaviors. They can research recycling systems, create awareness campaigns, design collection bins, and implement strategies for educating the community about recycling practices. Reference: "Design Thinking and Education for Sustainable Development: The Case of a Recycling Program in a School in Brazil" by Sergio Takeo Kofuji and Luís A. da Silva Lopes, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Designing Assistive Devices for Individuals with Disabilities: Students can employ design thinking to create assistive devices that enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. They can collaborate with users, identify specific needs, and design prototypes for devices such as wheelchair accessories, communication aids, or adaptive learning tools. Reference: "Design Thinking for Kids: Empathy-driven Solutions for the Disabled" by Nur Shazwani Abdul Rashid et al., Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Redesigning Classroom Furniture: Students can apply design thinking to redesign classroom furniture to enhance comfort, flexibility, and collaborative learning. They can ideate on alternative seating options, adjustable desks, and modular furniture that supports different learning activities and promotes student engagement. Reference: "Redesigning Classroom Furniture through a Design Thinking Approach for Learning Spaces" by Chee-Kit Looi et al., Journal of Learning Spaces.

Designing Educational Board Games: Students can leverage design thinking to create educational board games that make learning fun and engaging. They can identify key concepts, design game mechanics, and prototype games that promote knowledge retention, problem-solving, and teamwork. Reference: "Design Thinking Approach in Creating an Educational Board Game" by Sharifah Nadia Alkaff et al., International Journal of Engineering Education.

Redesigning School Backpacks: Students can use design thinking to reimagine school backpacks for improved comfort, organization, and ergonomics. They can conduct user research, gather feedback on pain points, and design prototypes that address issues such as weight distribution, storage compartments, and adjustable straps.

Designing a Digital Learning Platform: Students can apply design thinking to create a digital learning platform that caters to their needs and preferences. They can brainstorm. Reference: "A Design Thinking Approach to Improve Backpack Design for Elementary School Students" by Ayten K. Erek et al., International Journal of Engineering Education.

By applying design thinking principles, students can develop critical thinking skills, empathy, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. These examples demonstrate how design thinking can empower students to become active participants in their own learning journey and make a positive impact on their educational experience.

Here are some references that highlight successful design thinking initiatives for students:

  • "Design Thinking for Educators" by IDEO: IDEO, a renowned design consultancy, developed a toolkit specifically for educators to apply design thinking in the classroom. The toolkit provides step-by-step guidance, case studies, and real-world examples of design thinking projects in education.

Reference: "Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit" by IDEO, Available at: https://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/

  • "Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery, and Sharing" by Emily Pilloton and Christina Jenkins: This book explores how design thinking can be integrated into educational settings. It offers practical examples, case studies, and strategies for using design thinking to empower students and enhance learning experiences.

Reference: "Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery, and Sharing" by Emily Pilloton and Christina Jenkins, Publisher: Heinemann, 2016.

  • "LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student" by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer: This book provides insights and practical strategies for implementing design thinking in the classroom. It offers a framework called LAUNCH, which guides students through the design thinking process, encouraging them to think critically and solve real-world problems.

Reference: "LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student" by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer, Publisher: Dave Burgess Consulting, 2016.

  • "Design Thinking for School Leaders: Five Roles and Mindsets That Ignite Positive Change" by Alyssa Gallagher and Kami Thordarson: This book focuses on how school leaders can leverage design thinking to drive positive change in their educational institutions. It provides practical strategies, case studies, and examples of design thinking applied at the leadership level to improve teaching and learning.

Reference: "Design Thinking for School Leaders: Five Roles and Mindsets That Ignite Positive Change" by Alyssa Gallagher and Kami Thordarson, Publisher: Corwin, 2018.

These references provide valuable insights and resources for educators, administrators, and students interested in implementing design thinking in educational settings. They offer practical guidance, case studies, and strategies to foster creativity, problem-solving, and innovation among students.

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design thinking strategies education

Design Thinking and Innovation

Key concepts, who will benefit, aspiring or current innovation managers, entrepreneurs, product managers, developers, and marketers.

design thinking strategies education

What You Earn

Certificate of Completion

Certificate of Completion

Boost your resume with a Certificate of Completion from HBS Online

Earn by: completing this course

Certificate of Specialization

Certificate of Specialization

Prove your mastery of entrepreneurship and innovation

Earn by: completing any three courses within this subject area to earn a Certificate of Specialization

Content Week - Clarify: Empathy and Understanding

design thinking strategies education

  • An Introduction to Innovation
  • Clarify Through Observation
  • Insights and Problem Framing
  • The Right Enviroment for Creativity

Featured Exercises

Project week – clarify.

design thinking strategies education

  • Project Instructions

Content Week - Ideate, Part 1: Tools for Generating Ideas

design thinking strategies education

  • Establishing Focus with Design Principles
  • The Ideation Process: Getting Started with SIT
  • More SIT Tools for Ideation
  • Open-Ended Approaches to Generating Ideas
  • Review of Project Work

Content Week - Ideate, Part 2: User Values and Behaviors

design thinking strategies education

  • Design Heuristics for Generating and Refining Ideas
  • Designing for Behavior Change

Project Week - Ideate

design thinking strategies education

Content Week - Develop: An Experimentation Mindset

design thinking strategies education

  • Idea Selection and Evaluation
  • Defining and Refining Your Prototype Plan
  • Prototyping: From Exploration to Validation
  • Leading Concept Development

Content Week - Implement: Communication and Structure

design thinking strategies education

  • Overcoming Developer and User Bias
  • Strategies for Communicating Value
  • Managing an Innovation Culture

design thinking strategies education

So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur: How to Get Started

Our difference, about the professor.

design thinking strategies education

Srikant Datar Design Thinking and Innovation

Dates & eligibility.

No current course offerings for this selection.

All learners must be at least 18 years of age, proficient in English, and committed to learning and engaging with fellow participants throughout the course.

Learn about bringing this course to your organization .

Learner Stories

design thinking strategies education

Design Thinking and Innovation FAQs

Could you tell me a little more about the ai course assistant chat bot.

You can think of the beta version of the Design Thinking and Innovation AI Course Assistant chat bot in two ways: like a virtual Teaching Assistant who can help you consolidate and confirm your understanding of course concepts, and as a virtual Learner Success Assistant who can help you stay on track with completing the coursework in a timely fashion. When you are finding a particular concept difficult to master, or would like additional examples of a theory, try asking the bot your question in the same way you would phrase it to a human TA. If you have a question pertaining to where or how to submit certain assignments, or one relating to deadlines or time estimates, you can also express those in a similar fashion. Please note that no preexisting familiarity or experience with generative AI is necessary or assumed to use the bot and, while we encourage you to engage with the bot and share your candid feedback on your experience, a lack of engagement with the bot will not adversely impact your eligibility for a certificate of completion.

What are the learning requirements in order to successfully complete the course, and how are grades assigned?

Participants in Design Thinking and Innovation are eligible for a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Business School Online.

Participants are expected to fully complete all coursework in a thoughtful and timely manner. This will mean meeting each week’s course module deadlines and fully answering questions posed therein. This helps ensure participants proceed through the course at a similar pace and can take full advantage of social learning opportunities. In addition to module and assignment completion, we expect you to offer feedback on others’ reflections and contribute to conversations on the platform. Participants who fail to complete the course requirements will not receive a certificate and will not be eligible to retake the course.

More detailed information on course requirements will be communicated at the start of the course. No grades are assigned for Design Thinking and Innovation. Participants will either be evaluated as complete or not complete.

What materials will I have access to after completing Design Thinking and Innovation?

You will have access to the materials in every prior module as you progress through the program. Access to course materials and the course platform ends 60 days after the final deadline in the program.

At the end of each course module, you will be able to download a PDF summary highlighting key concepts used throughout the course. At the end of the program, you will receive a PDF compilation of all of the module summary documents. We hope the module summary documents will serve as a helpful resource after you finish the course.

How should I list my certificate on my resume?

Once you've earned your Certificate of Completion, list it on your resume along with the date of completion:

Harvard Business School Online Certificate in Design Thinking and Innovation [Cohort Start Month and Year]

List your certificate on your LinkedIn profile under "Education" with the language from the Credential Verification page:

School: Harvard Business School Online Dates Attended: [The year you participated in the program] Degree: Other; Certificate in Design Thinking and Innovation Field of Study: Leave blank Grade: "Complete" Activities and Societies: Leave blank

Description: Design Thinking and Innovation is a 7-week, 40-hour online certificate program from Harvard Business School. Design Thinking and Innovation will teach you how to leverage fundamental design thinking principles and innovative problem-solving tools to address business challenges and build products, strategies, teams, and environments for optimal use and performance.

The program was developed by leading Harvard Business School faculty and is delivered in an active learning environment based on the HBS signature case-based learning model.

What is the project?

Beginning in Module 2 of Design Thinking and Innovation, you will apply the tools you learn in the course to an innovation problem that is important or interesting to you, or you can use a provided scenario. In subsequent modules, you will use your earlier responses to build on your innovation project and make each phase of design thinking relevant to your own work.

Do I need to collaborate with others to complete the project?

No, each individual submits their own work in Design Thinking and Innovation, and all project work can be submitted without sharing it with others in the course. You are encouraged to share with others and ask for feedback, but collaboration isn’t necessary to advance through the course.

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design thinking strategies education

1st Edition

Disrupting and Design Thinking Education New Technology, Designs, and Business Models


Meadows proposes an approach to the education business that begins with needs, and proposes educational and business models, supported by new technologies. 

This book takes a design-thinking and disruption perspective on the future of education. Beginning with shocking statistics on cost, time, and lengthy debt repayment, it presents a clear case for disruption in the education sector. It continues by examining future skills in the age of AI, machine learning, and robotics. In this new age, businesses need a new kind of workforce, and workers need to equip themselves to survive and thrive. Drawing upon tools and techniques from disruption and design-thinking, Meadows puts forward new frameworks of education, business, and technology -- all with examples of educators (and learners) already doing it today.

This book provides rigorous thinking and practical guidance for professionals in the education industry and budding education entrepreneurs, as well as homeschooling parents. 

Table of Contents

Introduction and How This Book Can Help You 

1. We’re on Fire!

2. Disruption and Design Thinking: 2 Keys to Unlocking Tomorrow’s Education

3. Start With Needs: Who Is Education’s “Customer,” and What Do They Want?

4. What to Learn and How, for This New Age

5. New Business Models

6. Enabling Technologies

7. Tales from a Homeschooling Parent: The Future of Primary and Secondary Education

8. Vision, Design, Launch, and Growth Options

9. Conclusions, Insights, and Your Next Steps

Dr. CJ Meadows leads an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at S P Jain School of Global Management, working at the intersection of IT, business strategy, and design. She has a DBA-IT from Harvard Business School and 25+ years’ experience globally as an Accenture consultant and entrepreneur.

Critics' Reviews

In “The Future of Education,” Dr. Meadows paints a broad landscape of learning systems transformed by innovators and technology. Dive in to find a range of breakthrough ideas. Gary A. Bolles , author of “The Next Rules of Work” | Chair for the Future of Work for Singularity University | Co-Founder, eParachute.com | 1.5 million LinkedIn Learners This is an essential and timely book on the need to re-design education -- full of innovative ideas on how to compete in the new economy of AI-enabled learning and work. Full of insightful ideas and innovative recommendations, this work provides students, educators, investors, and employers with a solid foundation and path forward for adapting to and thriving in the digital economy.  Employees will need to continuously up-skill; every job will be redefined; and education methodologies will need to be re-created for the future. This book is essential reading! Paul W. Bradley , Chairman and CEO, Caprica International | Member, B20 Task Force on the Future of Work and Education for the G20 A must read for every learner, parent, educator, and educational investor -- in schools and corporate L&D! Whether you’re crafting your own educational journey or providing one to others, you’ll need this book’s vision of education’s future and tech-enabled (not driven) approach to creating it. Professor Virginia Cha , Global Agenda Council Member, World Economic Forum | Academic Director SMART Innovation Academy (Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) AI is enabling a radical new future of work, and we need to learn in equally new ways. This book provides essential advice for how to envision the new world of learning and how to create it. Dr. Chris Marshall , VP – Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, IDC Asia Pacific The future of learning is mobile, applied, social, and integrated with a new landscape of work. We need to redesign learning and digitally transform it, just as we’re digitally transforming our enterprises. Here you’ll find needs we need to serve, new business models for viability, and enabling technologies, so you can lead transformation with confidence. So-Young Kang , Chairman, AwakenFutures | Founder and CEO, Gnowbe | WEF Young Global Leader  

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Teori Taksonomi Bloom serta Cabaran Guru Pendidikan Islam dalam Mengaplikasi Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi (KBAT) Pengajaran Akidah Menurut Perspektif Jurulatih Utama Negeri (JU) Sekolah Rendah dan Menengah Bloom's Taxonomy and the Challenges Faced by Islamic Education Teachers in Applying Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in Teaching Aqidah from the Perspective of State Trainers (JU) in Primary and Secondary Schools

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The emphasis on critical thinking skills remains the primary focus in 21st-century thinking skills. However, the implementation of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) is deemed not fully achievable yet by Islamic Education teachers (GPI) in the teaching and learning sessions of the aqidah field. This study focuses on the challenges faced by Islamic Education teachers instructing the aqidah field based on the Document of Content and Assessment Standards (DSKP), as per the perspectives of State trainers (JU). The research design employs a semi-structured interview method, and the gathered data is thematically analyzed using ATLAS.ti V8 software. Ten participants were selected to represent five zones in Malaysia. These State trainers are expert teachers with extensive experience in Islamic religious education, recognized under the Ministry of Education Malaysia. The selected zones include one participant from a primary school and one from a secondary school in the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Central, and East Malaysia (Sabah) zones. Findings indicate that integrating Bloom's taxonomy framework into HOTS aqidah teaching faces challenges for GPI due to three major obstacles: individual teacher aspects, internal and external administrative issues, and student aspects with various interpretations.

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Developing and validating an instrument for assessing learning sciences competence of doctoral students in education in china.

design thinking strategies education

1. Introduction

2. literature review, 2.1. conceptual definition of learning sciences competence, 2.2. assessment instruments for learning sciences competence, 3. developing and validating learning sciences competence assessment instrument for doctoral students in education, 3.1. the theoretical foundation of the assessment instrument for learning sciences competence, 3.2. design of learning sciences competence assessment framework, 3.3. selecting and developing learning sciences competence assessment items, 3.4. validating the learning sciences competence assessment instrument, 3.4.1. the validation method: the delphi method based on llm, 3.4.2. validation steps.

  • Recruitment of AI Experts

3.4.3. Evaluation Indicators

3.4.4. item selection method, 3.4.5. analysis of results.

  • Analysis of the results of the first round of the Delphi method

4. Discussion

5. conclusions, author contributions, institutional review board statement, informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

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Click here to enlarge figure

Assessment DomainSecondary DimensionTertiary DimensionReference
Knowledge of Learning SciencesContent KnowledgeOverview of Learning Sciences; Research Topics and Main Viewpoints; Theoretical Foundations[ , ]
Procedural KnowledgeVarious Methodologies Applied by Learning Scientists
Cognitive KnowledgeUnderstanding the Rationale Behind Conducting Learning Sciences Research
Selecting Appropriate Methodologies to Address Problems
Critically Examining Research Findings in Learning Sciences
Application of Learning Sciences (Thinking of Learning Sciences and Competence of Learning Sciences)LearningJudging the Effectiveness of Learning Strategies[ ]
TeachingImplementing Teaching Practices Based on Learning Sciences
AssessmentConducting Teaching Assessment Based on Learning Sciences
ResearchConducting Research in Learning Sciences
Attitudes towards Learning SciencesBeliefs in Learning SciencesUnderstanding the Value[ , ]
Attitudes towards Learning SciencesIdentification; Interest
Willingness to Engage with Learning SciencesParticipation in Training and Development; Adjusting Teaching and Research
Assessment DomainSecondary DimensionSpecific ItemsReferences
Knowledge of Learning SciencesContent KnowledgeQ1. I am able to elucidate the definition of learning sciences.
Q2. I am able to provide an overview of the historical and developmental aspects of the field of learning sciences.
Q3. I am able to provide a comprehensive list of prominent experts and scholars, as well as journals and academic conferences, in the field of learning sciences, both domestically and internationally.
Q4. I am able to delineate the mechanisms and processes underlying the occurrence of learning.
Q5. I am able to design appropriate learning environments based on different learning theories for real-life situations.
Q6. I am conversant with the techniques of learning analysis, including classroom discourse analysis and online learning analysis.
Q7. I am able to delineate the concepts and roles of learning theories.
Q8. I am able to delineate the fundamental tenets of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and humanism as they pertain to the field of learning theory.
[ , ]
Procedural KnowledgeQ9. I am aware of the advantages, disadvantages, and appropriate contexts for research methods such as experimental and survey research.
Q10. I am conversant with the general process of Design-Based Research (DBR) methods.
Q11. I am conversant with the methodologies employed in neuroscience research, including neurophysiological techniques such as eye-tracking and the use of wearable devices.
Q12. I am conversant with the research methods and technologies based on big data and artificial intelligence, such as educational data mining.
[ ]
Cognitive KnowledgeQ13. It is evident that the essence of learning sciences is the elucidation of the nature of learning and the optimization of learning environment design.
Q14. I am able to select the most appropriate learning sciences research methods for a given context with the aim of addressing the problems at hand.
Q15. I am able to critically examine the current research outcomes in learning sciences.
[ ]
Application of Learning SciencesLearning StrategiesQ16. Which review strategy is more effective for students when reviewing previously learned concepts: self-testing (e.g., doing practice questions) or re-reading (repeating textbook or notes)?
Q17. Which learning strategy is more effective: highlighting key points with a highlighter or pen, or recording knowledge on blank paper?
Q18. Which is more effective: integrating information through text and images, or providing text and images separately?
Q19. Which learning strategy is more effective: “interleaved practice” (alternating practice with different types of questions) or “blocked practice” (concentrating practice on similar types of questions)?
[ , ]
Teaching PracticesQ20. As a language instructor endeavoring to facilitate students’ comprehension of the influence of writing purposes on text types, which approach would you select?
Activity 1: Have students read news reports and opinion articles from newspapers. Then, in groups, have them discuss how to identify the author’s persuasive intent, the differences between the two, and how to reflect different purposes. Additionally, it is important to consider how to adapt the approach if the purpose of the news report shifts from informative to entertainment.
Activity 2: Conduct a newspaper treasure hunt activity where students search for article titles with different writing purposes and record them in a table to visually understand the impact of writing purposes on text types.
Q21. When presenting a teaching animation on the formation of thunderstorms, which approach would you select?
Approach 1: The 2.5-min animation should be played continuously.
Approach 2: The animation can be divided into 16 segments, each approximately 10 s in length, with accompanying descriptions. In order to facilitate the learning process, it is advisable to include a “continue” button, which will allow learners to click and play the next segment.
Q22. When instructing students in the operations of algebraic equations, which pedagogical approach would you select?
Approach 1: Provide students with algebraic problems for practice and mastery through exercises.
Approach 2: Provide illustrative examples for students to learn from initially, and then present analogous problems for practice.
[ ]
Teaching AssessmentQ23. As a mathematics educator, following the instruction of binomial probability problems, a questionnaire was administered to ascertain the extent of student comprehension. The results indicate that the majority of the students believe they have a satisfactory grasp of the concepts. What inferences can be drawn from this data?[ ]
Scientific ResearchYou are researching the factors influencing students’ learning effectiveness. Please choose the most appropriate option.
Q24. Which question is more suitable for the study of the factors influencing students’ learning effectiveness?
A. The relationship between study habits and academic performance
B. The correlation between teacher age and teaching effectiveness
Q25. After collecting data on student classroom participation, homework completion, and grades, how should you choose the analysis method?
A. Summarizing data using descriptive statistics
B. Using causal analysis models to explore the relationship between variables
Q26. Upon the analysis of the data, it became evident that there was a significant correlation between a specific variable and academic performance. However, the causal relationship between the two remains uncertain. What is the appropriate course of action?
A. Conduct regression analysis to explore causality.
B. It is recommended that control variables be added in order to eliminate potential influences.
Q27. Empirical evidence indicates that a specific learning methodology has a positive effect on academic performance. How can the reliability and validity of the results be ensured?
A. Draw conclusions based solely on the results of this study.
B. Compare and discuss the results of this study with those of other studies.
[ ]
Attitudes towards Learning SciencesBeliefs in Learning SciencesQ28. I am aware of the significance of learning sciences in the context of both teaching practice and research.
Q29. I am aware of the advantages and limitations of the development of learning sciences research.
[ , ]
Attitudes towards Learning SciencesQ30. I am eager to pursue further knowledge in the field of learning sciences.
Q31. I am able to utilize learning sciences to address both teaching practice and research questions.
Q32. I am able to adhere to the ethical principles of learning sciences research.
Q33. I am profoundly interested in the field of learning sciences.
Q34. I am proactive in disseminating knowledge about learning sciences to those around me.
Willingness to Engage with Learning SciencesQ35. It is my hope that I will have the opportunity to participate in learning sciences-related courses or training activities.
Q36. I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to apply learning sciences in future teaching and research endeavors.
Q37. I am prepared to modify my previous teaching and research methodologies in accordance with the findings of learning sciences research in a timely manner.
1ERNIE BotBaidu accessed on 12 March 2024
2Spark DeskIflytek accessed on 12 March 2024
3Tongyi QianwenAlibaba Group accessed on 13 March 2024
4doubao AIByteDance accessed on 13 March 2024
5BaichuanBaichuan Intelligent Technology accessed on 13 March 2024
6360 GPT360 accessed on 13 March 2024
7HunyuanAideTencent accessed on 14 March 2024
8Kimi ChatMoonshot AI accessed on 14 March 2024
9Tiangong ChatKUNLUN TECH accessed on 14 March 2024
10ZhiPu AIZhiPu AI accessed on 14 March 2024
11GPT-3.5OpenAI accessed on 14 March 2024
12Copilot GPTMicrosoft accessed on 14 March 2024
13Claude-3-SonnetAnthropic accessed on 15 March 2024
14Gemini-ProGoogle accessed on 15 March 2024
15PaLMGoogle accessed on 15 March 2024
16Mistral-LargeMistral AI accessed on 15 March 2024
ItemFirst Round Second Round ItemFirst Round Second Round
First Round InquirySecond Round Inquiry
MeanStandard DeviationThresholdMeanStandard DeviationThreshold
Arithmetic Mean4.52360.38874.13494.6930.17574.5173
Coefficient of Variation0.11090.05180.16270.09280.03330.1261
Full Score Frequency0.59630.27070.32560.69850.17230.5262
The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

Wang, X.; Zhang, B.; Gao, H. Developing and Validating an Instrument for Assessing Learning Sciences Competence of Doctoral Students in Education in China. Sustainability 2024 , 16 , 5607. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16135607

Wang X, Zhang B, Gao H. Developing and Validating an Instrument for Assessing Learning Sciences Competence of Doctoral Students in Education in China. Sustainability . 2024; 16(13):5607. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16135607

Wang, Xin, Baohui Zhang, and Hongying Gao. 2024. "Developing and Validating an Instrument for Assessing Learning Sciences Competence of Doctoral Students in Education in China" Sustainability 16, no. 13: 5607. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16135607

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