Design Thinking

Design Thinking

Elementary DT

Middle & High School DT

While the traditional education over-emphasizing fixed content and rote memorization disassociated with the problem solving of the authentic societal issues, at PAS, we have begun to implement Design Thinking – a creative but disciplined approach to the process of understanding a problem from the perspective of the end user. Students are tasked with solving real-world problems through a carefully structured process, with the teacher as a facilitator and the students doing in-depth research and planning. It is a technique that can be used by anyone to solve any problem, and definitely student-centered approach to learning. While Design Thinking has been implemented by large corporation and government agencies in the professional world, starting from 2016-17 school year, PAS also started Design Thinking in one of our AP Seminar courses, Shaping the Future. We strive to integrate Design Thinking into our school curriculum to benefit our students from elementary to high school, high school as the priority, over the coming years, through which students will be equipped with the problem solving skills needed in the real world issues. Design Thinking in school curricula helps to develop children’s creativity and improve their thinking and innovative skills across disciplines. Students are trained to isolate problems, research on the background and identify the goals that need to be achieved, brainstorm on all possible solutions through the collection of data. This brainstorming step is where creativity steps in, as any suggestion or idea is taken into serious consideration, even what may seem like the most ludicrous idea may have its possibility in solving the problem. Through the process of prototyping and revision, students iterate these two steps to come up with a solid solution to the problem. Such experience trains students to learn from failure and to appreciate it. It is a method of self-solution and self-discovery, which incorporates analytic and creative thinking. Since the Design Thinking process attempts to solve a human problem, it is not only personal and authentic, but also motivates students to work for a clearly defined purpose, making learning a meaningful process. The process of Design Thinking is a method to self-solution and self-discovery: providing students with the autonomy and opportunities to building creative confidence. At PAS, for the school year of 2017-19, we will build into our curriculum a specific time for Design Thinking. During this time, students will work on projects of their choice and take the challenge to become creative problem-solvers.

Design thinking process


Empathy is the centerpiece of a human-centered design process. The Empathize mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge. It is your effort to understand the way they do things and why, their physical and emotional needs, how they think about world, and what is meaningful to them.


The Define mode of the design process is all about bringing clarity and focus to the design space. It is your chance, and responsibility, as a design thinker to define the challenge you are taking on, based on what you have learned about your user and about the context. The goal of the Define mode is to craft a meaningful and actionable problem statement – this is what we call a point-of-view.


Ideate is the mode of the design process in which you concentrate on idea generation. Mentally it represents a process of “going wide” in terms of concepts and outcomes. Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions into the hands of your users.


The Prototype mode is the iterative generation of artifacts intended to answer questions that get you closer to your final solution. A prototype can be anything that a user can interact with – be it a wall of post-it notes, a gadget you put together, a role-playing activity, or even a storyboard. Ideally you bias toward something a user can experience.


The Test mode is when you solicit feedback, about the prototypes you have created, from your users and have another opportunity to gain empathy for the people you are designing for. Testing is another opportunity to understand your user, but unlike your initial empathy mode, you have now likely done more framing of the problem and created prototypes to test.


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