Why is it important to have design thinking standards as basic in creating a project?

To be able to answer this question, firstly we shared questionnaires to leaders of primary levels as the representatives of teachers. On the questionnaires we ask them to share their opinion what a meaningful activity is, how do they create it and what criteria that make an activity becomes meaningful. 

As a result, they come up with different perspectives and point of views related to the definition of a meaningful activity. According to them, meaningful activity is a brain-friendly activity that can give the students a lot of benefits. Some of them state that it is an activity in which the students can connect the prior knowledge with the new knowledge to create deeper understanding that they can use to create connections between what they have learned with their life. Others state that meaningful activity gives the students an opportunity to learn more effectively through experiences. In doing so, the students can use all the resources to achieve the targets. 

They also come up with different ideas on how to create a meaningful activity. Some state that to be able to create a meaningful activity we should, first, equip the students with a strong concept or understanding before bringing them to the problems that they face in their environment. Some others prefer to look at the learning targets and personal targets and see the students’ need as a part of the things we need to consider when planning an activity for them. Some believe that it is good to let the students become the teachers for their own learning. It is also a good thing to provide them with reliable and accountable sources, revision on what they have learned and evaluation on their product or solution.

Looking at this fact, we can say that none of the teachers’ opinion towards a meaningful activity or project is misled. We can conclude that their considerations, their focus and their concerns are purely to empower the students to be able to have a fun and meaningful learning that can help them to cope with the problems they face in their future life. Yet, teachers are still directed by their point of views and perspectives which are different form one to another. Teachers are expected to have a world view in which they can have one wider view towards learning. Design thinking is the best approach teachers can apply in designing an activity or a project in the classroom. The information that teachers have shared is served as the answer of the driving question which means that we are in the process of defining a problem statement (DPS). It is a crucial thing to do when we are in define phase of design thinking process.

As it is explained in the previous article, design thinking is a human-centered approached to solving problems that meet the user’s needs. Design thinking approach has five phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype also test. Design thinking has become the best approach that teachers can apply because design thinking has the performance expectation or standards that each student is expected to possess as they have gone through each phase of the design thinking process.

The standards consist of:

  1. Design thinking practices; it refers to skills that the students will be able to do.
  2. Core design Ideas; it refers to knowledge that students will understand.
  3. Design mindsets; it refers to a set of attitudes essential for effective application of design thinking 

Design mindset in design thinking process in the classroom consists of: 

  1. Human-centered. When the students have a human-centered mindset, they will be able to think in the perspective of their user. The user is the most important factor in the design process, that is why engaging and having an interaction with them is needed in order to get inspirations and insight that will direct them to design the expected outcomes. 
  2. Mindful of Process. This mindset will enable the students to collaboratively brainstorm a solution, be open-minded, defer judgment, think beyond what has existed, build on the ideas of others and generate a lot of ideas. The most important part of this mindset is how the work is being done and how it can be improved in each phase.
  3. The culture of Prototyping. This mindset lets the students to continuously learn and apply their new learnings to improve what they have built or developed. A student with this mindset will be able to receive feedback and learn quickly from their failures. They can make an improvement in their products or solution using their creativity. This mindset also allows them to create the expected solution in a shorter period of time. 
  4. Bias Toward Action. This mindset gives the students the tendency to take initiative, make decisions and take self-directed actions. This mindset is important to design thinking because all the phases in the design thinking process require the students to have action-oriented behavior. To have this mindset, the students have to overcome their fear of failure and not easily give up when obstacles appear. Action-oriented behavior occurs when the students realize that failure is not an outcome but it is part of the process and by doing some iteration, they will be able to transform their prototype into a high-quality product or solution. 
  5. Show Don’t Tell. With this mindset, students will be able to communicate and share ideas through visual representations in the form of a sketch, real prototype or digital visualization. These visuals can help the user to understand complex ideas easily, stimulate further discussion, identify unanticipated problems and bring them and their use to the same understanding. Sharing visuals is a great opportunity for the students to get some feedback from the user that can help them improve their ideas. Therefore, it is important for students to always be open-minded and avoid being defensive.
  6. Radical Collaboration.Students with this mindset will be able to work together effectively using social and interpersonal skills in order to complete a common goal. Each student has different perspectives, skills, backgrounds, and learning styles that leads to many possibilities, breakthrough ideas, and innovative solutions. What makes this mindset radical are the collaborative opportunities that the students will have with their users. In the school context, students might collaborate with their teachers who are expert in certain fields or subjects. 

Look at the table below for detail information on what DTS should appear in each phase of the design thinking process in the classroom.

Design Thinking Standards in each phase of design thinking process


In his book entitled Design Thinking in the Classroom, David Lee states we can be a designer who empowers our students with a design framework that stimulates the real world in our classroom by providing them the real-world skills that they need to face their future challenge. By allowing the students to undergo the phases of the design thinking process means that we have equipped them to face their real-world challenges. The DTS that are set in each phase of the design thinking process allows them to develop skills and mindset that they need to meet the challenges they will face in their future. ***

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