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Teach Design Thinking for Career Readiness


^21st Century Skills All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Social Awareness Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Teach Design Thinking for Career Readiness

If your students can take on complex, multi-faceted projects

How To Apply It!

  1. Teach students design thinking to strengthen their problem solving and empathy skills, two skills considered essential for workplace success.
  2. Identify a situational problem(s) that you will have the class address, either as a whole class, in small groups, or individually. Examples include a new lunch table so that everyone can sit at one table, a workstation that has all the tools that everyone would need, or a chair that would be comfortable for everyone.
  3. If appropriate, encourage students to explain their own needs and how they could benefit from the product. Or have students share stories of people they know who struggle with the current situational problem. Specific stories and connections will help other students develop their empathy.
  4. Prioritize the solution goals. Discuss the commonality of human problems along with individual differences and the importance of balancing needs. Are some problems universal and a new solution could help all users? Are some problems so important that they must be addressed, even if they only affect a small percent of the ultimate users? Have students create criteria for prioritizing goals and explain their thinking.
  5. Brainstorm. Come up with as many ideas as possible to address the goals. If working in groups, respect the rules of brainstorming and accept all ideas without judgment and build off of others' ideas.
  6. If appropriate, have students prototype and test their best ideas. Create a rubric on which to evaluate the prototypes. The rubric should include not only if the product worked effectively, but also how well it met the original goals in #3. Teachers might want to use an additional rubric to evaluate students' collaboration and planning skills.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Empathy is directly correlated with better adult behaviors and better mental health, including better workplace success. Rather than telling students the importance of empathy, enable them to experience and discuss universal human needs. Solving problems through design thinking can help them see the world through different eyes. Design thinking can be particularly effective for gifted students as it gives them the opportunity to solve real world problems but also appreciate their similarities and differences from others.