Design for education: Developing teacher candidates as design thinkers




Matsumoto, V. S., Yoshioka, J., Fulton, L. A., Nakamura, C., & Fukunaga, E.


Design Thinking is a mindset and an approach that allows participants to engage in complex problem-solving, collaboration and critical thinking. (IDEO Riverdale, n.d.). These competencies are all promoted in education, but at what point do the classroom teachers become design thinkers? Do they receive a day of training and are then expected to overhaul their curricula and transform their teaching overnight because of a few buzzwords? By being introduced to the principles of Design Thinking as they are being prepared for the classroom, candidates are better able to learn and grow within the framework and enter the profession with appropriate training and experience in Design Thinking. In short, they enter the profession as design thinking teachers instead of teachers who must learn to become design thinkers. The movement of Design Thinking has been embraced by those in business and technology related fields since the 1980s when Peter Rowe published his book Design Thinking (1987). Today, this way of thinking and problem-solving is utilized by savvy elementary and secondary students and has seen tremendous growth in schools across the country (Wise, 2016), but it has not yet firmly established itself in teacher education programs. Instead of replacing the important elements of a teacher preparation program, Design Thinking can be introduced and embedded into those existing elements. The Design Thinking principles are versatile enough to be applied to nearly any task or assignment that exists within a course or program. The skills that are products of Design Thinking are not only versatile, but critical elements that every teacher candidate should have in his/her arsenal. While many teacher preparation programs require service learning and aim for candidates to develop as teacher leaders, the lack of a framework for the projects can be problematic. In many cases the school and community projects are being done, but with no specific and consistent guideposts. Lacking a framework for this important work led us to Design Thinking, which was already being used regularly in our partner Professional Development School, where our candidates were being placed. In order to honor our partnership by sharing resources and providing opportunities for all constituents to grow, the teacher candidates were trained in Design Thinking by high school students in the partner school. Later, the candidates were tasked with seeing the cohort’s Design Thinking project through to fruition. Candidates later took the principles further and used them in small group and individual school and community projects, while applying the concepts in their classrooms with students, bringing the cycle full circle.


Matsumoto, V. S., Yoshioka, J., Fulton, L. A., Nakamura, C., & Fukunaga, E. (2018). Design for education: Developing teacher candidates as design thinkers. Presented at the meeting of the Japan-United States Teacher Education Consortium (JUSTEC), Osaka, Japan.