How will I inquire into Design Thinking?

A while ago I shared my thinking behind why I was going to focus on Design Thinking for my eFellows inquiry (see this post here). This post is about sharing my methodology for this inquiry.

For those who don’t wish to go back and re-read my old post I have also included my aim so that you can see where this is coming from:


This research project aims to gather the student perspective in regards to Design Thinking. It will then provide a comparison with teacher aims and perspectives on using Design Thinking as a pedagogical approach.

Guiding Questions

  • How is Design Thinking influencing learning?
  • Are there differences between student and teacher experiences using Design Thinking?
  • Does Design Thinking lead to dispositional change that could impact on how students act in society?

Data Collection

Round 1:

The first round of data collection will involve interviewing 10 teachers on what they hope to achieve by using Design Thinking as a pedagogical approach. This will involve face to face interviews of teachers at Hobsonville Point Secondary School and other Auckland schools using Design Thinking. It will also involve interviews over Google Hangouts with teachers from the rest of New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Questions for Round 1:
What do you understand Design Thinking to mean?
What is your experience with Design Thinking?
What would you say are the most important parts of the Design Thinking Process?
Why use Design Thinking in class?
What do you see students gaining through the use of Design Thinking in class?

Round 2:

The 2nd round of data collection will be gaining student perspectives on the use of design thinking. To help draw out the information from students I will get teachers interviewing the students from their school. The questions for the student interviews will be designed in response to what emerges from the teacher interviews. This will be a set question list but teachers will have the ability to ask further sub-questions if they feel the student has more to give.

Possible Questions for Round 2:
What do you understand Design Thinking to mean?
What is your experience with Design Thinking?
How does Design Thinking impact on your learning? (negatively or positively)
In your experience, what parts of Design Thinking have the biggest impact on your learning?
What parts of Design Thinking have you transferred to situations where you weren’t following a Design Thinking process?
Has Design Thinking had any impact on the way you operate outside of classes?
What difference has Design Thinking made to your attitude towards social problems in society?

Round 3:

A third round of data collection will revisit both teacher and student participants in order to explore emerging themes in more depth, seek clarification of clashing ideas or add depth to the data.


I have written before about my perspective on education being influenced by Complexity Theory (see The Complex Classroom or Natural Ecosystem of Learning for more on this) and this methodology is designed to allow for the emergence of ideas. I will look to investigate the themes that emerge from both teacher and student experiences and design the next step of questions in response to these, looking to gain more depth of understanding.

This design also looks to utilise the relationships that teachers have with their students. By having teachers interview their students they are able to see when students are holding back or not explaining themselves more completely than I could as a complete stranger.


Now, just to sort out my ethics forms and I can start the research! Thanks for following my eFellows journey and if you are interested in being involved as a participant in this research then please get in contact either through the comments on this post or by contacting me at @GeoMouldey on twitter.



2 thoughts on “How will I inquire into Design Thinking?

  1. Sounds awesome Steve! Would be delighted to be one of your research participants if you would like. Let me know.

  2. This is awesome thanks for sharing and inspiring.
    Just one suggestion, though: if the teacher is still teaching the student, the student may be reluctant to say anything negative about that teacher’s use of d-thinking. I have interviewed my students before, but usually after the course was over and they could be more critical without risks of grades, etc. Or will the teacher be from the school but not the same one who teaches them?

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