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Transforming Constructivist Learning into Action: Design Thinking in education

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In an ever changing society of the 21st century, there is a demand to equip students with meta competences going beyond cognitive knowledge. Education, therefore, needs a transition from transferring knowledge to developing individual potentials with the help of constructivist learning. Advantages of constructivist learning, and criteria for its realisation have been well-determined through theoretical findings in pedagogy (Reich 2008, de Corte, OECD 2010). However, the practical implementation leaves a lot to be desired (Gardner 2010, Wagner 2011). Knowledge acquisition is still fragmented into isolated subjects. Lesson layouts are not efficiently designed to help teachers execute a holistic and interdisciplinary learning. As is shown in this paper, teachers are having negative classroom experience with project work or interdisciplinary teaching, due to a constant feeling of uncertainty and chaos, as well as lack of a process to follow. We therefore conclude: there is a missing link between theoretical findings and demands by pedagogy science and its practical implementation. We claim that, Design Thinking as a team-based learning process offers teachers support towards practice-oriented and holistic modes of constructivist learning in projects. Our case study confirms an improvement of classroom experience for teacher and student alike when using Design Thinking. This leads to a positive attitude towards constructivist learning and an increase of its implementation in education. The ultimate goal of this paper is to prove that Design Thinking gets teachers empowered to facilitate constructivist learning in order to foster 21st century skills.
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In an ever changing society of the 21st century, there is a
demand to equip students with meta competences going
beyond cognitive knowledge. Education, therefore, needs
a transition from transferring knowledge to developing
individual potentials with the help of constructivist learning.
Advantages of constructivist learning, and criteria for its
realisation have been well-determined through theoretical
findings in pedagogy (Reich 2008, de Corte, OECD
2010). However, the practical implementation leaves a lot
to be desired (Gardner 2010, Wagner 2011). Knowledge
acquisition is still fragmented into isolated subjects. Lesson
layouts are not efficiently designed to help teachers
execute a holistic and interdisciplinary learning. As is
shown in this paper, teachers are having negative
classroom experience with project work or interdisciplinary
teaching, due to a constant feeling of uncertainty and
chaos, as well as lack of a process to follow. We therefore
conclude: there is a missing link between theoretical
findings and demands by pedagogy science and its
practical implementation. We claim that, Design Thinking
as a team-based learning process offers teachers support
towards practice-oriented and holistic modes of
constructivist learning in projects. Our case study confirms
an improvement of classroom experience for teacher and
student alike when using Design Thinking. This leads to a
positive attitude towards constructivist learning and an
increase of its implementation in education. The ultimate
goal of this paper is to prove that Design Thinking gets
teachers empowered to facilitate constructivist learning in
order to foster 21st century skills.
Key words
Design Thinking; education; learning process;
Constructivism, 21st century skills
Introduction
The mandate of schools is to unfold the personality of
every student and to build a strong character with a sense
of responsibility for democracy and community. This
implies developing skills of reflection, interpretation of
different information and other complex meta-
competences. Science, business and social organisations
alike describe a strong need for a set of skills and
competences, often referred to as 21st century skills
(e.g. Pink 2006, Wagner 2010, Gardner 2007) or key
competences (OECD). These include communicative,
social and creative meta-competences in addition to
cognitive skills (Carroll et al. 2010). Schools are the only
compulsory place for most young people to develop
abilities and qualifications. Therefore, educational systems
are getting more and more demanded to facilitate the
development of such competences and skills. With the
complexity of everyday life increasing, globalisation, fast-
changing technological advances, product cycles getting
shorter and economic competition tightening, innovative
capacities comprised in the 21st century skills have
become crucial for individuals to survive in an ever
changing society (Dikmans 2011). Most of them are
related to knowledge management, which include
processes concerning information selection, acquisition,
integration, analysis and sharing of knowledge in socially
networked environments (de Corte 2010). It is important
to equip not only academics with those skills at university,
but to already start with each students in the schools.
Content learning is important, but in order to effectively
internalise knowledge, metacognitive competences,
attitudes, values and action skills are crucially necessary
(Weinert 2003). Teaching such metacognitive
competences needs to go beyond isolated information
acquisition in certain subjects, towards a holistic learning
through experience and reflection in projects. So-called
CSSC learning, which enables learning processes that are
constructed, self-regulated, situated in real-life context and
collaborative (de Corte 2010) is recommended by
educational experts. The question intrudes: how does a
format look like that successfully implements CSSC
learning in the school context? How to make phenomena
understandable as a whole, going beyond their
fragmentation into mono-disciplinary subjects? How to
account for complexity rather than focussing on isolated
parts of knowledge? We believe, the crucial point is to get
teachers motivated and enabled to effectively implement
CSSC learning, acknowledging side effects of projects like
chaos and crisis as learning opportunities. It is necessary to
equip them tools and methods, which create a positive
classroom experience while exercising project work. We
furthermore claim that Design Thinking can serve as such
a format. Design Thinking, here defined as a team-based
Transforming Constructivist Learning into Action:
Design Thinking in education
Andrea Scheer, Hasso Plattner Institute at University of Potsdam, Germany
Christine Noweski, Hasso Plattner Institute at University of Potsdam, Germany
Prof Dr Christoph Meinel, Hasso Plattner Institute at University of Potsdam, Germany
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learning method, helps to deal with complex problems by
sustaining in-depth learning processes on problem
perception and diverse solution paths (Kröper 2010).
Objectives of this paper are to synthesise research on
issues related to constructivist learning theory and teaching
design, to identify problems of realising CSSC learning in
the school context, and to offer a solution to meet those
difficulties with the use of Design Thinking in order to
facilitate and foster constructivist teaching and learning in
the school context (e.g. high school). Research Questions
are: Can the facilitation of CSSC learning be advanced
through the use of Design Thinking? What is the classroom
experience like, when using Design Thinking? Is the use of
Design Thinking valuable for the teacher?
The claim on education: Developing 21st century skills
through a constructivist learning design
From educational researchers to business men and
politicians, society is calling for so-called key competences
in order to be able to deal with any sort of complex
problems that dominate all facets of our society and
business world (Pink 2010, Gardner 2010).
Those key competences involve knowledge, skills,
attitudes and values (Weinert 2003). Harvard professor
Tony Wagner calls them the “seven survival skills for
careers, college, and citizenship” (Wagner 2011):
• critical thinking and problem solving;
• collaboration across networks and leading by influence;
• agility and adaptability;
• initiative and entrepreneurialism;
• effective oral and written communication;
• accessing and analysing information;
• curiosity and imagination.
Pedagogy science states that such accounts can be met
especially well through a holistic constructivist approach
(Weinert 2003, Knoll 1993, Reich 2008). One method of
which is learning in interdisciplinary projects (Dewey
1913). In constructivism, learning is a process of
individually self-organising knowledge. The process of
learning is unpredictable, and knowledge constantly
altered through new insights, which are gained through
individual experiences (Reich 2008, Kolb 1984). As
opposed to realism, in which the learner is regarded as an
independent observer of objects. In contrast,
constructivism integrates the learner within his own
observations in a cycle of creation and observation. An
interactive relation between the observer and the
observed arises (for an easier understanding see figure 1).
The educationalist and philosopher John Dewey regarded
the interaction between the subject and the world with all
its complexity as essential for gaining knowledge. Dewey’s
understanding identified learning as a multi-facetted
process of structured interaction of humans with their
natural and social environment. These interactions
produce experiences which modify further interaction.
“There is no me without us“ (Dewey 1931:91).
Perception and knowledge is only developed in relation to
and through interaction with the object and its context.
Therefore, learning in the constructivist perspective is a
process of constantly adapting to situations, which consist
of ever-changing relations between subject, object and
context. However, constructivism is neither a method nor a
universal model, and it does not provide concrete didactic
indications for the teacher to implement.
In contrast to constructivist beliefs, education today is
centered around specific disciplines and isolated subjects,
which is the result of breaking down a complex real-life
phenomena into little parts. Small information parts are
thought to be easier to absorb for the student.
Concentrating on one aspect of phenomena and
distributing knowledge rather isolated from its complexity
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Design Thinking in education
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Figure 1. The learner and his environment, Andrea Scheer 2011
Constructivism: immersion in the context Realsim: perspective is out of context
might be better manageable for the teacher. However, this
disregards that the whole is different from the sum of its
parts. In addition, splitting up a complex phenomena into
subjects and only examining isolated facts makes it hard
for the student to recognise links between facts and
phenomena. A connection to the real-life context is
missing. However, theoretical findings about the
advantages of constructivist learning (the holistic approach,
real-world challenges, motivation i.e.) and criteria for its
realisation are distinct (Reich 2008, Dewey 1916). The
practical implementation itself does not yet take place
effectively (Gardner 2010, Wagner 2011). We believe that
teachers are demotivated and helpless in making use of
constructivist learning theory and realising holistic project
work in the classroom, due to negative classroom
experiences with project methods. This is partly because
of difficulties in assessing performance in project work. It
will always be easier to let students do a test, asking for
logical and analytical thinking only (computer-like). These
tests are linear, sequential and time restricted. It’s still
difficult to measure more complex and social oriented
21st century skills. But still the old saying is true: What you
test is what you get. Ministries of educations therefore take
this issue seriously right now. Over the last years, there
has been a big effort, in many western countries to
integrate 21st century skill assessment into major, mostly
centralised tests, as the A-level, or German
Mittelstufenabschluss. This is still a struggle but has
already proven to open the education systems to a new
group of students, focussing on those with actual
potential, regardless of their educational background.
Another reason might be missing recommendations of
designing constructivist learning and project-work. The
latter shall be in the focus of this paper. There is a missing
link of transferring theoretical findings of pedagogy science
into practical implementation, which leads the teacher to
focus on approved and easily conductible content learning
methods, denying constructivist learning projects. Wagner
is referring to it as the “Global Achievement Gap”, the gap
between “what even the best schools are teaching and
testing versus the skills all students will need for careers,
college, and citizenship in the 21st century” (Wagner
2011). We want to fill that gap by proposing Design
Thinking as a meta-disciplinary methodology which offers
teachers the needed support through a formalised
process. Teachers, as facilitators of learning need to be
equipped with up-to-date skills and tools to actually
practice on the needed key competence learning.
Otherwise, there is a risk that such competences will even
more decline. There are high stakes in teacher education.
Criteria for a constructivist learning and teaching
design
Learning is a process of understanding, which leads to
modifications in the behaviour of the learner (Hasselhorn
and Gold 2006). According to constructivist theory, this is
achieved through experience. The teacher as a facilitator of
learning should consequently be able to design learning
experiences. So, what is needed for constructivist learning
design? In his concept of CSSC learning, Erik de Corte
points out four main criteria for competence oriented
learning: to be constructed, situated in context, self-
regulated by the learner and collaborative (de Corte
2010). As participation and engagement of the student is
a crucial characteristic of constructivist learning (Reich
2008), the teacher needs to involve the student in the
learning design, e.g. to look at the students interests in
order to propose a problem statement or project
challenge. Even more so, they need space to try out
different mental models and methods to connect abstract
knowledge with concrete applications and thereby, being
able to convert and apply abstract and general principles
(acquired through instruction) in meaningful and
responsible acting in life (acquired through construction).
The following three aspects are essential for a convenient
constructive learning design:
• involvement of students;
• experience space;
• balance of instruction and construction.
In sum, a good lesson design needs to be a balanced
composition of instruction and construction, or as Dewey
would say “construction through instruction” (Dewey
1913, Knoll 1993). A lesson design should answer, How
students can experience certain situations, and how
teacher can enable this experience. A good learning
design is in what schools mostly fail until today. The How,
e.g. the instruction to execute constructivist learning is
either too open (free construction only) or too detailed
(instruction only).
Teaching complex phenomena – approaches for
implementation
Abstract approach: Dewey’s Problem-Solving method
Dewey’s understanding of learning was a direct process of
a structured interaction of humans and their natural and
social environment. These interactions produce
experiences which modify further interaction (Dewey
1913) – learning took place (see definition of learning
above, Hasselhorn and Gold 2006).
Thinking and doing are very much intertwined as the one
defines the other and vice versa. This reflects a holistic
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process of thinking and doing as education. Dewey
suggested a method of constructive problem-solving.
Dewey’s method is centered around an inquiry in context
unfolding a problem or difficulty, which then motivates for
further analyses and exploration. New insights are the
foundation for an explanation of that inquiry, and are
followed by a plan of action to solve the problem
according to the explanation.
The following criteria are needed to realise this method:
• challenges situated in real-life environment of the
learner;
• action – interaction of thinking and action plus interaction
and sharing of knowledge between learner and teacher;
• application – solving the problem and applying the
insights, reflecting and understanding through applying
ideas.
In conclusion, Dewey’s perspective on learning and
education is centered around a real-life inquiry, which has
to be analysed in its complexity. The inquiry acts like
“a magnet for content”, it motivates further analysis of
content and input of several disciplines in order to explain
and solve that complex inquiry as a whole“ (Dewey
1931). In that, the Dewey approach meets the main
aspects of constructivist learning. It involves the student
throughout the learning process, suggests to balance
instruction and construction, and more or less allows
experience in real-life situations. Although Dewey
described his method theoretically, the complexity and
abstractness of these recommendations is the crux of the
matter for teachers to actually implement them into
schools. His recommendations are not enough to get over
the difficulties of teaching complex phenomena in a
holistic constructivist manner. That might be why
education today is still focused on breaking down complex
phenomena into smaller, isolated subjects. This is because
they are easier to implement and distribute to students in
the first place. This is why we compared Dewey’s method
to Design Thinking, as we believe that Design Thinking can
give concrete recommendations for distributing a complex
phenomena without abstracting too much, but still being
digestible for the student and implementable for the
teacher.
Concrete approach: Design Thinking in education
Design thinking understood as a meta-disciplinary
methodology loosens the link to design as a profession.
Even though Design Thinking was explored and
developed in connection with professional designers at
first, strategies have been identified that are relevant to
all disciplines and professions (Lindberg et al., 2009:4,
emphasis as per original).
Thinking like a designer involves different kinds of abilities
and competences in different fields of knowledge:
conceiving, planning and making products (Buchanan
1999). Those are cognitive processes manifested in
design action. Designers are used to deal with complex
problems, and by generating diverse high-scoring
solutions, analysing and evaluating them in order to
gradually improve them (Dorst 2006). This is what
students should be enabled for and what the so-called key
competences are all about: dealing with complex real-life
problems by analysing and evaluating them in order to act
solution-oriented and responsible. Design Thinking realises
what is recommended theoretically in constructivist theory.
Especially learning through experience and complex
problem solving among other aspects are met in Design
Thinking and can be employed at all age groups, e.g.
extensive experiences at the K12 program at the d.school
in Stanford, USA. Design Thinking is a constructivist
learning design, because of its qualities in training certain
skills, which are predispositions for a constructive way of
learning: motivation for exploration, openness for new
ideas, creative thinking and other metacognitive
competences (Noweski 2012). In a Design Thinking
context as described in the phases below, such
predispositions are met to ensure 21st century skills
development. Students are motivated for exploration, trust
is build up between student and teacher to give
confidence for self-exploration, and team competences
are fostered to express ones opinion and share
knowledge. A formalised process guides the teacher
towards constructivist learning. Design Thinking can be
realised in short sessions integrated in a highly specialised
A Level biology class, as in interdisciplinary full project
weeks.
Pioneering this approach, the Nueva School in California
states that Design Thinking is taught, applied, and explored
in three strands:
“Some projects aim to take students through the entire
design-thinking process. These experiences include a
‘Secret Service project’, (kindergarten), ‘Cooperative
Games’ project (second grade), year-long Design
Engineering classes, (grades 4–5), and the ‘Solar House
Project’ (grade 6). Integrated projects require students
to use aspects of the design-thinking process as tools to
solve real problems presented in homeroom or subject
classes. These include STEM projects like ‘Electrical
Switches’ (second grade), ‘Catapults’ (fifth grade),
‘Roller Coaster’ (sixth grade), and ‘Cell Membranes’
(eighth grade). They can also include social problem-
solving activities like the ‘Service Learning Fair’ (third
grade), and the ‘Social Issues Project’ (fifth grade), and
art projects like the ‘Electronic Arts’, and ‘Digital
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Storytelling’ electives. Other pursuits involve
independent exploration. Individual students, clubs, and
teams use the school's design-thinking and engineering
resources to deepen their own skills during recess,
electives, and the after-school program. Projects have
ranged from designing model houses to robotics
competitions.” (Nueva School, Design Thinking
Overview)
The Design Thinking process fosters several competences
in different phases, in which expansion and consolidation
take turns. This is the heartbeat of Design Thinking. The
phases are as follows:
Understand and Observe (Expanding)
The first step in the design process is to build up empathy
and understanding of the people and the situation the
problem or challenge is set in. The goal is to get a clue of
relations between the problem and its context, and to find
out hidden needs. Empathy is the competence of
recognising feelings, thoughts, intentions and
characteristics of others.
Synthesis (Consolidating)
In order to solve a problem and generate meaningful
ideas, one has to define the problem and its context. As
seen in the phase of understanding, there are different
perspectives on one particular problem and a lot of
information is generated to describe the problem. In the
synthesis phase, all this information needs to be
interpreted and condensed to meaningful insights, in
order to be able to generate actionable solutions. It
involves critical thinking and interpretation skills to
condense a lot of information into a compelling point of
view and clear direction for ideation.
Ideate (Expanding)
Ideation means opening up the mind, being imaginative
and generating lots of ideas for solving the problem.
Brainstorming in the team helps to build on the ideas of
others and collaboratively transforming the knowledge
about the problem and its origins into actionable problem
solving ideas. This is what pedagogy describes as the
competence of applying knowledge.
Prototype (Consolidating)
The prototype phase is all about experimentation to bring
ideas alive, to make them tangible, actionable, testable.
Learning more about the ideas, its possibilities in form and
function through building them. The goal of prototyping is
to be able to share ideas with others, to specify your
abstract imaginations and to get the mental concept of an
idea into the physical world.
Test (Expanding)
Testing means bringing the idea, the solution generated
through the design process into action in order to get
feedback on which to build on. Feedback from other
persons, from experts, from novices, from users, everyone
involved in the problem context. Through testing a lot of
information is gathered, in that it is similar to the observe
and understand phase. However, this information is
focused on the solution, and shows how well the problem
has been understood. It is important to be able to
communicate the idea you want to get feedback on, and
to capture and interpret that feedback in order to refine
your idea.
Iteration
Basically, the process follows these six steps that build on
each other while preserving a cyclical and iterative nature.
The star‘s outer lines and imagined arrows illustrate that it
is possible and desired to move from one phase to any
other at any point of time, as well as to repeat the whole
process or certain stages. The testing phase already
implies a smooth transition to the observing and
understand phase, as the problem context has changed
with your idea. Its iterative nature unfolds the whole
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Figure 2. Design Thinking Process, author unknown
concept of constructivism – there is no such thing as a
fixed and one dimensional reality, rather different
situations apply different perspectives and new
perspectives generate new situations. Knowledge is
individually self-organised, and proofed in and adapted to
the context.
Design Thinking comprises of three core elements
(figure 5), flexible space, team work and the design
process into a systemic approach on problem solving. In
that, it is not only a process of learning, but a whole
mindset and atmosphere.
There is a high degree of student involvement as Design
Thinking is constantly giving opportunities for experiencing
complex phenomena and reflecting on insights. A balance
between instruction and construction is accomplished
through the iterative manner of the learning process.
As theoretically described, Design Thinking as a
formalisation of constructivist learning fosters the
development 21st century skills and is a method for team-
based learning in holistic projects. In our case study the
success of realisation of Design Thinking in a school
context, and its usability for teachers was tested.
• Do students like to work with Design Thinking and do
they actively participate?
• Do teacher like working with Design Thinking and are
they likely to use this method again?
• Does Design Thinking built up a positive learning
atmosphere between teacher and student?
Case study
Design Thinking was tested with 10th grade high school
students (aged 15-17: tenth grade is the last general school
year before College in Germany) in order to analyse and
evaluate Design Thinking as a teaching method in
comparison to Dewey’s recommendations. The
students and teachers motivation, the learning
atmosphere and the development of cognitive and
social competencies were the main criteria for
analysis. An empirical study was set up to prove the
above stated hypotheses with the use of quantitative
questionnaires and the Inventory of Social
Competence – ISK (Kanning 2009). A three-day case
study took place in a secondary school in Potsdam,
Germany, involving 125 students and a team of
twelve teachers and coaches (assigned by
coincidence, Dewey groups were school teacher,
Design Thinking groups were coached by d.school
coaches, all the coaches chosen to be similar
characters (end twenties, highly motivated, open for
new methodologies and experts in their domains
(project teaching with students/Design Thinking
coaching), all of them participated in a briefing to
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Figure 3. Core elements of Design Thinking, Elias Barrasch 2012
Figure 4. Design Thinking Workspaces in the classroom,
Fabian Schülbe 2011
make sure their knowledge level of the methods would be
equal). The students were divided into 22 teams of five to
six students each, to face the real-world challenge “New
Media in the classroom – How can we help teachers to use
new media efficiently in the classroom?” The Design
Thinking process, as described above was used by eleven
teams. One Design Thinking coach was facilitator for two
teams. These eleven Design Thinking teams were
compared to eleven teams using the project-based method
(Kilpatrick 1918). One teacher was facilitator for two teams
in this experimental category. The coaches were prepared in
a training session. Here, they got information to intensify
their already existing knowledge on their pedagogical
approach. When the students arrived in the morning, we
told them which teams they had randomly been assigned
to, giving attention that gender and classes were as equally
dispersed as possible. There was a facilitator for each room
(6 teams), supporting the teacher and students with
organisational and methodological difficulties, but the main
challenge was left to the coaches and students themselves.
They knew their challenge, the time frame and the method
they ought to use and all of them were told to have as
much fun as possible. All teams were set in an ordinary
classroom of the high-school (six teams per room) and
equipped with whiteboards, bar tables and stools, working-,
research- and prototyping material, as well as one laptop
and a beamer for presentations.
Everyday, students and teachers had to fill out several
questionnaires, but spending no more than 20 minutes
altogether per day on it, except for the Inventar Sozialer
Kompetenzen – ISK (Kanning 2009, see chapter III How
does Design Thinking contribute in developing 21st century
skills?), which was filled out by the students in their regular
class settings before and after the workshop. To see what
impact the workshop had – if any – on the social skills of
students, pre-post comparisons (that is: gain-scores) were
calculated. In sum, students of the Design Thinking
condition profit more than students of the Dewey-condition.
Even though not all differences in gain-scores are large
enough to reach statistical significance, the picture is pretty
consistent: In an eighteen out of 21 scale the gain-scores
are more favourable for Design Thinkers. In particular, the
gain-scores differ with statistical significance (p < .05) on
the following scales, favouring Design Thinking: Self-
Expression, Direct Self-Attention, Self-Monitoring and
Reflexibility. Close to significant (p < .1) are differences of
gain-scores on the following scales: Assertiveness, Flexibility
of Action, Indirect Self Attention and Person Perception.
Results
Design Thinking fosters metacognitive skills and
competences explicitly by using a formalised process. Such
a process offers the teacher support in realising
constructivist learning and gives recommendations for
methods (e.g. method for effective reflection, brainstorming
rules). As described in the theoretical part above, Design
Thinking projects focus on constructivist learning and
integrate content. What is crucial in Design Thinking are the
process phases which need to be run through. The teacher
can put different emphasis on different phases, according to
the learning goal and individual needs. But only the process
as a whole, with all its steps sets the frame for constructivist
learning. Encountering new content and complex
interrelations of information, solving team crisis and getting
feedback for intermediate results are difficult aspects of
such a project-learning, but also crucial for developing
metacognitive competences. This is realised through the
Design Thinking process as a whole, or as Dewey would
point out the whole act of thinking. With the process on
hand, the teacher is prepared for these challenges, being
confident in solving them and thus more motivated in using
the process and actually realising constructivist learning.
In that, Design Thinking serves as a first standard for
constructivist teaching regardless of the scope of ambiguity
of teacher motivation. Once succeeded in the process
(solving of challenge, mastering the process), the teacher
gets positive feedback and the development of students
social competences can be assessed (Noweski 2012). This
success leads to motivation of both students and teacher in
realising more constructivist learning.
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Figure 5. Scales of the Inventar Sozialer
Kompetenzen, based on Kanning 2009
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Figure 6. Average teacher judgments regarding the question: “How did the students came across throughout
the workshop?” rated on a scale ranging from -3 to +3; negative values indicate the left characterisation
applies more; positive values indicate the right characterisation is more applicable
1.) Teachers describe the students as more participatory than usual at school if a constructivist teaching method
is applied.
Figure 7. Average teacher judgments regarding the expected impact of Design Thinking or Dewey’s project work
at school
2.) Teachers consider Design Thinking a highly valuable teaching method – more valuable than the Dewey
approach.
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Figure 8. Average teacher statements regarding whether or not they are likely to carry out a Design Thinking or
Dewey project at school
3.) Teachers state they are very likely to pursue a Design Thinking project if possible. Whether they would carry
out a Dewey project is much less certain.
Figure 9. Average student ratings of coach-team relation in Design Thinking ( ) versus Dewey ( ) projects
4.) The teacher-student relation is positive in Design Thinking and in Dewey projects. In Design Thinking projects
it is even more positive than in Dewey projects, and this consistently so.
Students and coaches report positive
sentiments throughout the whole project.
Indeed, at each single point of measurement
all four groups (students Dewey, students
Design Thinking, coaches Dewey, coaches
Design Thinking) report an average mood in
the positive realm (above zero).
Daily trends. At all three project days there is
a trend that the mood improves from
morning to afternoon.
Final sentiments. Students leave the
workshop with a very good sentiment both in
the Dewey and in the Design Thinking
condition. For the coaches, an immense
difference becomes apparent: The mood of
Dewey coaches drops drastically while that of
Design Thinking coaches takes off.
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Figure 10: Average student ratings regarding the Design Thinking ( ) versus Dewey ( ) method
Figure 11. Positive sentiments
5.) Students appreciate the Design Thinking and the Dewey method. Consistently, they value the Design Thinking
method even more than the Dewey method.
6.) Mood assessment On each workshop day students and coaches specify their mood: in the morning, at midday and
in the afternoon. The mood scale ranges from -10 (extremely negative) to +10 (extremely positive). There is one
additional point of measurement for coaches due to their day of preparation ahead of the workshop.
Conclusion
The impact of Design Thinking in teaching and learning at
schools is promising. The case study has resulted in a
positive experience for the participants. Design Thinking
gives teachers faith in their creative abilities through a
process to hold on to when facing difficulties during the
project. We can conclude our hypothesis confirmed that a
teacher would be more likely to repeat constructivist
teaching in a real school scenario when applying the
Design Thinking process. This was mainly evaluated
through measuring the self-perception of teachers (Mood
measurement, Questionnaire). In further research external
evaluation could be applied to enhance the results. As can
be seen in figure 12, the ambiguity of the teachers
personality at the beginning of a project still relies on
openness (hope) towards constructivist teaching.
Nevertheless Design Thinking can give especially critical
minded teachers a guiding framework and support, until a
dynamic sets up motivating and hopefully leading to
confidence.
Design Thinking can serve as the missing link between
theoretical findings in pedagogy science and the actual
practical realisation in schools. It meets the crucial criteria
for effective 21st century learning by facilitating
interdisciplinary projects, approaching complex
phenomena in a holistic constructivist manner. It thereby
leads to a transition from the transfer of knowledge to the
development of individual potentials. It enhances the
implementation of CSSC learning by giving teachers more
confidence in creating and exercising collaborative project
work. Furthermore, Design Thinking fosters a positive
relationship between teacher and students. In addition,
the corresponding paper by Noweski (2012) confirms the
fostering of student’s social and metacognitive
competences through Design Thinking. It became clear
that it is a difference to possess the knowledge of project
methods and to be able to actually apply them. Teachers
do need confidence and the expertise in facilitating
constructivist learning. There is a need for Design Thinking
in teacher education, which could be analysed in further
research.
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scheer.andrea@gmail.com
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Christoph.Meinel@hpi.uni-potsdam.de
Transforming Constructivist Learning into Action:
Design Thinking in education
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Design and Technology Education: An International Journal 17.3
... However, constructivism is not some particular pedagogy (Bada & Olusegun, 2015), and it is neither a universal model nor a method. It does not provide any didactic instructions that educators have to commit to or deliver (Scheer et al., 2012). It is a philosophy or theory that explains how people might develop knowledge and learn; therefore, it can be applied directly to the education (Bada & Olusegun, 2015). ...
... While there are many constructivist perspectives approaching learning from various angles, there is one common feature, a shared principle. That is that knowledge, regardless of the conditions or its origins, is constructed on the learner's mind (Dougiamas, 1998;Royalty, 2018;Scheer et al., 2012). This thesis acknowledges that constructivism is approached from multiple angles. ...
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... From instructor perspective, teachers as facilitators to help different students go through their individual learning process by establish a learning scaffold. Considering students' participation and engagement, teachers can design the learning experience to motivate students through selecting the theme related to their interests or background Scheer et al., 2012). Under Design Thinking process, teachers need to offer timely supports and create a suitable learning atmosphere to students. ...
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Empirical studies that investigate the effect of design thinking within complex contexts involving multiple stakeholders are rare. The aim of this study is to contribute to the literature on design thinking, by investigating the perceived usefulness of including design thinking activities into a complex research project for food safety. A survey was distributed to all participants in SafeConsume, a Horizon 2020 research project, to measure perceived usefulness of design thinking activities such as collaborative workshops, visualization tools and empathic observation studies. Bivariate correlations and one-way ANOVAs were conducted in JMP Pro 14. The results indicate that design thinking activities may be useful also for large food safety projects. Multidisciplinary collaborative workshops can generate optimism and a sense of belonging among the participants, visualization tools can contribute to simplify complex information, and empathic observation studies makes it easier to think user centric. This study is one of few that quantitatively investigate the perceived usefulness of implementing design thinking into a multidisciplinary research project, and the findings contribute to a better understanding of the perceived effects of implementing design thinking into a large complex food safety research projects.
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The word 'project' is perhaps the latest arrival to knock for admittance at the door of educational terminology. Shall we admit the stranger? Not wisely unless two preliminary questions have first been answered in the affirmative: First, is there behind the proposed term and waiting even now to be christened a valid notion or concept which promises to render appreciable service in educational thinking? Second, if we grant the foregoing, does the term "project" fitly designate the waiting concept? Because the question as to the concept and its worth is so much more significant than any matter of mere names, this discussion will deal almost exclusively with the first of the two inquiries. It is indeed entirely possible that some other term, as 'purposeful act', for example, would call attention to a more important element in the concept, and, if so, might prove superior as a term to the word 'project'. At the outset it is probably wise to caution the reader against expecting any great amount of novelty in the idea here presented. The metaphor of christening is not to be taken too seriously; the concept to be considered is not in fact newly born. Not a few readers will be disappointed that after all so little new is presented. A little of the personal may perhaps serve to introduce the more formal discussion. In attacking with successive classes in educational theory the problem of method, I had felt increasingly the need of unifying more completely a number of important related aspects of the educative process. I began to hope for some one concept which might serve this end. Such a concept, if found, must, so I thought, emphasize the factor of action, preferably wholehearted vigorous activity. It must at the same time provide a place for the adequate utilization of the laws of learning, and no less for the essential elements of the ethical quality of conduct. The last named looks of course to the social situation as well as to the individual attitude. Along with these should go, as it seemed the important generalization that education is life—so easy to say and so hard to delimit. Could now all of these be contemplated under one workable notion? If yes, a great gain. In proportion as such a unifying concept could be found, in like proportion would the work of presenting educational theory be facilitated; in the same proportion should be the rapid spread of a better practice. But could this unifying idea be found? Here was in fact the age-old problem of effective logical organization. My whole philosophic outlook had made me suspicious of so-called 'fundamental principles'. Was there yet another way of attaining unity? I do not mean to say that I asked these questions, either in these words or in this order. Rather is this a retrospective ordering of the more important outcomes. As the desired unification lay specifically in the field of method, might not some typical unit of concrete procedure supply the need—some unit of conduct that should be, as it were, a sample of life, a fair sample of the worthy life and consequently of education? As these questionings rose more definitely to mind, there came increasingly a belief—corroborated on many sides—that the unifying idea I sought was to be found in the conception of wholehearted purposeful activity proceeding in a social environment, or more briefly, in the unit element of such activity, the hearty purposeful act.
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The purpose of the Taking Design Thinking to Schools Research Project was to extend the knowledge base that contributes to an improved understanding of the role of design thinking in K-12 classrooms. The ethnographic qualitative study focused on the implementation of an interdisciplinary design curriculum by a team of university instructors in a public charter school. Three questions framed the study. How did students express their understanding of design thinking classroom activities? How did affective elements impact design thinking in the classroom environment? How is design thinking connected to academic standards and content learning in the classroom?
Article
Anmerkung des Umsetzungsdienstes: Das Werk wurde in Schriftgröße Punkt 12 umgesetzt und ist zitierfähig. In der "Konstruktivistischen Didaktik" wird gezeigt, wie Lehren und Lernen in der Gegenwart unter Beachtung der Inhalts- und Beziehungsseite erfolgreich und lernerbezogen begründet und gestaltet werden können. Der konstruktivistische Ansatz hilft dabei, das Lehren und Lernen neu zu bestimmen und eine lernerorientierte Didaktik für Unterricht in allen Formen differenziert darzustellen. Das Buch wendet sich an Didaktiker in allen Lehr- und Lernbereichen.
  • Richard Buchanan
Buchanan, Richard (1999): Design Research and the New Learning, Design Issues, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 3-23, The MIT Press. Available at: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/07479 360152681056?journalCode=desi [accessed November 11, 2011].
Historical developments in the understanding of learning
  • E De Corte
de Corte E, (2010): Historical developments in the understanding of learning. In: Dumont H, Istance D, Benavides F (eds.): The Nature of Learning. Using Research To Inspire Practice. OECD, Educational Research and Innovation, pp. 35-60.
Die Bedeutung vin erfahrungsbasiertem Lernen für den Erwerb von Schlüsselkompetenzen. Masterarbeit an der HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA School of Governance
  • C Dikmans
Dikmans, C. (2011). Die Bedeutung vin erfahrungsbasiertem Lernen für den Erwerb von Schlüsselkompetenzen. Masterarbeit an der HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA School of Governance.
Lernen durch praktisches Problemlösen. Die Projektmethode in den
  • Michael Knoll
Knoll, Michael (1991). Lernen durch praktisches Problemlösen. Die Projektmethode in den U.S.A., 1860-1915. in: Zeitschrift für internationale erziehungs-und sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung 8, pp. 103-127.