Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

What Is Design Thinking? 

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem solving. It helps us look at problems that are so tricky that we may not know where to start. Approaching problems with design thinking can be applied to teachers who encounter complex problems, roadblocks or scenarios that need solutions or improvement. Read on to find out the steps involved in Design Thinking! 


In the first step we need to understand who the product is designed for. If two parents are worried about their child’s school grades, we would start by placing ourselves in their shoes – what are they feeling, why are they worried and what is the worst-case scenario that is going through their minds? This is what makes design thinking a human-centred approach to problem-solving. In a teaching setting we are often faced with the concerns of parents. With design thinking the first step is to empathise with the person you are solving for. 


In the second step, define what it is that person needs. What is it that they require for the problem to be solved? If a parent is worried about their child’s grades, with design thinking we can start by defining what a parent wants to see on their child’s report card for them to be satisfied with their child’s academic performance. 


The ideate stage is where we develop potential solutions to the problem. This is when we can re-shape the learning structure for this student. Thinking about everything that goes on in a child’s life, we can extrapolate why perhaps this student is not performing to the best of their ability. 


In the prototype stage we break down the ideas from step 3 and place them into simple prototypes. This is the stage where we could implement the new learning structure and see if the parents can change things outside of school (for example, limit excessive gaming, social media, energy drink consumption) to start investigating where the student is being pulled back from study.  


In this final stage we finally test the solution with real people and get effective feedback on what could be done better. In this classroom example, we can review the child’s assessments after a period of teaching and parenting changes to see if the new implementations have been successful. 

Design thinking is modern way for businesses to approach their problems and see fast, effective results. It’s an approach that can and should be implemented in the classroom or school context, where teachers are working with the end goal in mind, and with the objective to quickly imagine, test and assess a solution that could work for one or many students. A sure way to make change and avoid becoming stagnant when it comes to your students’ education and development. 

This article was inspired by episode #38 of The Parent-Teacher Project entitled What Is Design Thinking? A Modern Approach To Effective Learning with Kristine Malabanan and Matthew Aldous.

Listen to the entire episode below.


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