Design thinking approach in project

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Tim Brown the CEO of the design agency IDEO is often mentioned to be the establisher of Design Thinking. However, the roots of design research on design thinking issues date back to 1960 (Simon 1969) and 1980 (Schön in 1983.) Thus, we have wanted to establish a framework that takes into account the research executed before as well as the well-known IDEO and Stanford university design thinking methods.

The developed framework is a combination of three dimensions: Practise, cognitive and mindset (see Hassi & Laakso 2011 and 2011a). Practise dimension is important because it provides the means for methods and practices. It is closely related to what occurs in companies currently. Our approach has adopted tools and lean service creation canvases from design companies such as Futurice and Gofore. Theoretically this dimension builds on human-centred approaches (Norman 2010), thinking by doing (Schön 1983) and collaborative work style (Paavola & Hakkarainen 2014, Seitamaa-Hakkarainen & Hakkarainen 2001, Rylander 2009, Brown 2009 and Sato et al 2010).

The cognitive dimension stands on the research of thinking manners – especially on the research of creative thinking. Our main basis is on abductive reasoning (Paavola 2015, 2015a, Lockwood 2009, Dew 2007) and hands on research on thinking and doing by Seitamaa-Hakkarainen et al (2014). Abductive reasoning provides means to understand how to support creative activities in an appropriate environment.

Ideation, creative thinking or in other words coming up with ideas out of the box requires the following activities and characteristics:

  • Searching anomalous, surprising, or disturbing phenomena and observations.
  • Detecting details, little clues, and tones.
  • Continuous search for hypotheses and understanding their presumptive nature.
  • Aiming at finding what kind or type of explanations might be viable for scoping the challenge
  • Aiming at finding ideas which can be explained or rather be experimented if they work
  • Searching for “patterns” and connections that fit together to make a reasonable unity.
  • Understanding and paying attention to the process of discovery – its different phases. (Paavola 2014)

The last dimension mindset, means the way/orientation/ attitude problems and challenges are approached. The orientation includes characteristics such as: being able to stand uncertainty, willing to learn from mistakes and being emphatic. These characteristics are learnable. (Cooper et al. 2009, Drews 2009, Hassi & Tuulenmäki 2012 and Mattelmäki & Battarbee 2002).

Pedagogical approaches that exercise problem-based learning, project-based learning and inquiry-based learning are well fitted into design thinking mentality (Dym et al. 2005). These learner-centred approaches increase students’ awareness about good design processes but the courses need to be designed to include: generation of ideas/solutions, receiving support e.g. “on-going feedback about the feasibility of various solutions by providing multiple and varied opportunities to design and create prototypes, experiment with different ideas, collaborate with others, reflect on their learning, and repeat the cycle while revising and improving each time” (Razzouk & Shute 2012: 343). In our design process of the game, we have kept these guidelines as our backbone for the game.


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