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  • School of Education
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  • Stanford, CA 94305-3096


Student Teams in Search of Design Thinking

Goldman, S., Kabayadondo, Z., Royalty, A., Carroll, M. & B. Roth. (2014). Student Teams in Search of Design Thinking. In C. Meinel, H.Plattner & L. Leiffer (eds.) Design Thinking Research: Building Innovation Eco-Systems. Springer International, 11-34

Abstract: The research explored student teams as they worked independently of instructors and coaches to understand how students learn the design thinking process. Two approaches to the research were explored: taking cues from team members’ reflections on their working sessions; and, analyzing communication bids made by students using interaction analysis techniques. Teams from two design thinking classes at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( at Stanford were studied. Results indicate that groups struggled for sustained and focused talk and activity relating to their assigned tasks, yet ultimately, established ways to communicate and accomplish assigned tasks. The findings implicate course design, suggesting more attention to team process and communication.

Download the full paper, pdf


Learning from What Doesn't Work: The Power of Embracing a Prototyping Mindset

Introduction: You can read all the books beforehand, but there is nothing quite like the first moment you hold your newbord infant in your arms. Learning on the job is really what parenthood is all about. That kind of immersion is much like what Stanford University students experienced as they became mentors to East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy middle schoolers during the Spring quarter. The students were enrolled in the class Educating Young STEM Thinkers, which was part of an NSF grant called "" The focus was to integrate design thinking, mentorship, and STEM learning. The students who were a mix of engineering, math, education and science majors, were learning design thinking -- a human-centered innovation process--as they were teaching it. This article highlights how this group of dedicated and passionate students dove passionately into an experience that changed the way they thought about learning in some very small and very big ways.

Download the full paper, pdf


Destination, Imagination, and the Fires Within: Design Thinking in a Middle School Classroom.

Carroll, M., Goldman, S., Britos, L., Koh, J., Royalty, A. & M. Hornstein. (2010). Destination, Imagination, and the Fires Within: Design Thinking in a Middle School Classroom. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 29, 1, 37-53.

Abstract: 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 inter- disciplinary 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 class- room environment? How is design thinking connected to academic standards and content learning in the classroom?

Download the full paper, pdf


Becoming a Design Thinker.

Carroll, M., Britos, L., & S. Goldman. Becoming a Design Thinker. London: Berg Publishers Open University (Publication date: January 2012)

Abstract: This is a chapter about design thinking. It describes both the process and the mindsets that support a way of thinking that is both creative and analytical. Design is not linear in the way characterised in many diagrams of design.  It is convoluted and complex, requiring designers to loop backwards and forwards between the present and past stages in cycles of iteration. At the core of this chapter are some practical pointers and insightful observations on what characterises good design thinkers. The chapter is supported with references to some of the leading design thinkers in design practice and design education today.  

Full paper coming soon!


Innovation in the Classroom: Design Thinking for 21st Century Learning

Kwek, D. (2011). Innovation in the Classroom:  Design Thinking for 21st Century Learning. Stanford University. Unpublished Master’s Thesis.

Abstract: This study explores how design thinking as a new model of learning is used in classroom learning. Through lesson observations and interviews, a fuller understanding is developed of the motivations that drive teachers to adopt this innovative approach and the considerations they have when using it in the teaching and learning of core content. The findings showed that the teachers were not passive recipients of this new pedagogical tool and have “appropriated” it in multiple unique ways – to suit different purposes, different learning contexts and their different subjects. Another key finding is that mastery of academic core content still drives how design thinking is used to intersect with classroom learning. This study thus emphasizes the need to promote 21st century skills and academic content knowledge as similarly important student outcomes.

Download the full paper, pdf

The Windaloobah Project: Design Thinking in a Middle School Mathematics Classroom

(Under review)


REDlab Team Conference Presentations

Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Program (HPDTRP) Community Workshop
“Design Thinking Assessment Metric for Use in Education”

June 2011

International Reading Association
(Chicago, Illinois)

American Educational Research Association SIG Meeting, Design & Technology Interactive Presentation
(Denver, Colorado)

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, "The Antarctica Challenge"
(Denver, Colorado)

National Council of Teachers of English College Composition & Communication
(Louisville, KY)

The 8th International Conference on Interaction Design & Children
(Como, Italy)

Make Believe REAL: Designing a Preschool for the Future
(Como, Italy)

Creativity & Cognition Conference Oct. 28-330, 2009
University of California at Berkeley
(Berkeley, California)

"Design  thinking is an approach that uses the designer's sensibility and  methods for problem solving to meet people's needs in a technologically  feasible and commercially viable way. In other words, design thinking is  human-centered innovation."

- Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

Articles on Design Thinking

In this section, we have included some articles you might find helpful about design thinking and more specifically, design thinking in K12 education.

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, website

K-12 Initiative, wiki

An account of design thinking in the classroom
The Bully and the Bystander Design Challenge


Understanding Design Thinking

This section comprises video and other media that provide insights into how design thinkers feel about the work they do.'s K-12 Education Lab, video

Shelley's talk at the K-12 Initiative Grant, text

Zaza's reflections on design thinking

Melissa's reflections on design thinking


Resources for the Classroom

IDEO's Design Thinking for Educators. These tools contain the process and methods of design, which we have adapted specifically for K-12 teachers to help them be more intentional about the solutions they design every day.

A design thinking version of
The Antartica Project: A Middle-School Mathematics Unit

A design challenge package for teachers on
Biomes, Animals and Adaptation


REDtalks: Current research in K-12 and Design from the REDlab Workshop 2011

To watch the talks for free, visit our workshop page.