“We see ourselves as designers”: Teachers and the role of design

One of our major goals with this course was to help participants see themselves as designers. We strongly believe that educational innovation comes from educators who are given the freedom to creatively innovate. Before and after our summer 2020 virtual course on UDL and Design Thinking, we asked participants to rate their familiarity with the course topics. The following graph shows how their familiarity with Design Thinking changed after summer course. About 70% of participants had never heard of or had only a vague idea of what Design Thinking was before the course. However, by the end of the course, we saw a large increase in participants’ understanding. About 55% of the participants said that they are now moderately familiar with Design Thinking and about 15% said that they are now extremely familiar with Design Thinking.

Bar Graph. Label is Familiarity with Design Thinking. Vertical scale is o% to 60%. Not at all Pre is 36.4%. Post is 0. Slightly Familiar Pre is 31.8%. Post is 6.1%. Somewhat Familiar is pre 18.2% Post is 24.9%. Moderately familiar is pre 13.6% Post is 54.5%. Extremely Familiar pre is 0%, post is 15.3%

At the end of the course, participants were also asked to rate how much they felt they grew in different areas over the course of the summer. When asked about seeing themselves as designers, all but one participant indicated growth, with the majority (24) indicating they felt they experienced definite growth in this area (see below graph). Participants’ familiarity with and growth in Design Thinking was also confirmed in initial qualitative analysis, which suggests that participants came to see themselves as curriculum designers rather than simply passive consumers of curriculum.

Bar graph. Label is We See Ourselves as Designers. On the left, No Growth is a 1. Next, Some Growth is a 4. Last, Definite Growth is 24.

We assume that what shifted these beliefs was participation in a Design Thinking process. Participants worked extensively in Design Teams throughout the course. Design Thinking is something you need to experience, not something you can just read about. As we continue our analysis of the data, we want to explore further HOW these shifts came about.

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