The Impact of Design Thinking on Utah Students

For the last year (2012-2013) we have given a pre and post survey to assess the impact of Design Thinking on students in the after school enrichment program: an eight week experience, meeting two times a week for 90 minutes.  The instructor, a skillful Design Thinking Utah sixth grade teacher in Alpine school district, has attended all the Stanford Innovation Studios since 2011 and used the Stanford Water Curriculum for the National Science Foundation Grant.

Here are some voices of 5th and 6th graders in the after school enrichment program:

1. How is the Design Thinking Program DIFFERENT from your regular classroom?

"I think that it is different because you have more chances to express your thoughts, ideation, and disagreements.  In school, you also don't have as much time to learn things that you might need to know if you want to get a job or to be a good interviewer.  Design thinking has also changed the perspective of many things, especially the way I think of water and how much we take it for granted." -Fifth Grader

"Well there are other students in the class that I don't see a lot in the school.  You think different then in your class. you get to do different do different stuff and have a lot more fun than I do in class. We are in groups who really cooperate better with each other and all listen to each other talk and comment on their ideas. We try to meet people's needs in our prototypes for the clients." - Sixth Grader

"It helps me think a lot. And I have great ideas than in my classroom. I wish there was more classes. It is fun and educational." -Fifth Grader

"I am allowed to sit anywhere I want to. I have a lot of fun and NO HOMEWORK. I really like to deal with problems we get and meet with happiness. And last but not least we work on projects for others not ourselves." - Sixth Grader

"It is more specific, in the way that all you do is Design Thinking. Where in normal school you do all sorts of things. Because I enjoy Design Thinking. Also, everyone in Design Thinking is enthusiastic about learning, so there aren't that many distractions. That gives us more time for all the exciting activities that were planned. In Design Thinking we learned how to properly interview our client by making them comfortable and asking questions that really make them think or tell stories.  We also learned how to use the information from our interview to create a prototype that fits their needs. We were taught to alter our prototypes after getting feedback from the client to make it the best it can possibly be." - Sixth Grader

2. What would you tell other students about the Design Thinking after school program?

"I would encourage them a lot because it helps you think and get a lot deeper in thought.  It will also literally open a new world of perspectives and action towards people, animals, and the world.  You can learn a lot of new things in fun, informational ways. Design Thinking Rocks!"  -Fifth Grader

"They should do it cause you get to be in groups who know how to think differently and how to help other people. Another reason is you learn how to help people and even yourself in life and school." -Sixth Grader

"It is great. It gives you great ideas. You would love it. If you need a good career take design thinking to help you." -Fifth Grader

"It is very fun. It's much better than school and video games and trust me I am a video game freak and I rather do design thinking because you get to do hands on projects and build very cool stuff and YOU CAN BE ON A DOCUMENTARY AND COMMERCIAL WOULD THAT BE COOL OR WHAT?" -Sixth Grader

"I would tell them that it is a great program, and that it has changed the way I see things.  I see everything as an opportunity, a chance to improve the world. I'd explain that Design Thinking may help you in more ways than you might think, and it can help others too. The Design Thinking process is a great one.  It helps you develop empathy for your client, so that you can create something that is be truly helpful to them. If someone needs it. Maybe other people do too.  A good prototype cold lead to many things. Maybe one day, that seemingly small thing could change your life, or even the world." -Sixth Grader