Design Thinking Process

A large part of critical thinking is the Design Thinking Process. We believe students should be actively engaged in their learning. Rather than always follow a prescribed course of study, we let them take the reins and innovate to solve problems they have identified. Design Thinking is an innovative methodology that gives students the chance to explore, learn and cultivate their curiosity.

Design Thinking has evolved over time from Theme-Based Projects and Project-Based Learning. All three of these approaches aim to engage students in learning to give them ownership and to create with purpose. Over the past several years, the Design Thinking Process has taken hold and continues to evolve as the premier way for students to learn through inquiry.

Where Project-Based Learning is widely teacher driven, Design Thinking puts the student at the center. The Design Thinking Process, or Maker Learning, aims to have students invent by creating innovative solutions to problems. Students are guided to explore dozens of potential lines of teacher-provided inquiry, and eventually to identify those lines of inquiry on their own. The teacher facilitates, models, guides and coaches. The students drive the process. What makes it groundbreaking is that it helps students learn to innovate, create, and solve problems. This will be a critically important skill set as we enter the Creative Age.

Design Thinking Process

The Design Thinking Process may be defined as:

Empathize > Define > Ideate > Prototype > Test

Before any work can begin on a project, students must gain an empathic understanding of the problem they are trying to solve. They may talk to experts and immerse themselves in the problem. The goal of this first step is to gain insight into the needs of the end-user.

Only after students fully understand the problem can it be defined. Students gather all their information and synthesize it into one cohesive problem to solve. They learn to express the problem in a way that is human centered so that their inquiry is always driven by empathy and human need.

This is where our students’ creativity really shines! Students think outside the box to generate a multitude of ideas that may help solve the problem they have identified.

This is the experimental phase of the process. Students utilize our Maker Space to design and build their solutions.

After completing the prototype, students must test it to see how well it solves their problem. The process is not always linear, as the test might help students redefine their question or lead to changes that require them to return to the prototype phase. Students are always thinking and reevaluating to see how they can better solve the problem they have identified.