Design Thinking and the Undergraduate Student

The beginning of January is the harbinger of another whirlwind term for our second year undergraduate education students.

The coursework for much of their time centers on design thinking and working through the process to successfully complete a task based on the tenants.  Many instructors call on us, Tammy Flanders and I, to walk their students through our “Introduction to Design Thinking” workshop.  There is one problem – time.

The perennial problem with every design thinking workshop we have ever been to is time.  Not enough time.  In working through the five steps of the design thinking process:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test and Re-Test

students are expected to work through an authentic task to develop their knowledge of the process.

If we do our workshop and help them to learn the Stanford-inspired language for Design Thinking and how we have worked through each individual step, then we are forcing the experience and requiring creative solutions on the spot.

In our most perfect world, our Design Thinking workshop would take place over days, in which students would have time to empathize with the end user of their prototypes.  They would have time to define the task at hand, mull it over and return to further define the task.  Upon further contemplation, various parts of the solution would occur to each group and there would be time for them to consider each aspect of each solution.  Prototyping would come quickly with on-the-spot feedback and testing and re-testing would prove to be a valuable learning experience.

In this current framework, we touch on the deeper thinking nature of the first three steps and hope the prototyping and testing will take care of itself.  We hope that this rapid introduction to the steps and process of design thinking leave them wanting more through the Doucette’s Research Guide.

And so we spread the word about Design Thinking and the authentic learning prototype it can bring to each classroom but we struggle to give it the time it needs to fully be explored.

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