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Design Thinking in Middle School

A thesis on cognitive and social development of middle school students.


In the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016, Stephanie completed thesis research on the relationship between design thinking and teamwork skills in the cognitive development of students, and created a guideline curriculum to help implement these tools. There are interesting connections between these skillsets that align with the natural growth in students of this age range.

The design process pushes the designer to problem solve through stages of idea generation, planning, design, building, and refining ideas. Middle school brains are primed for this type of problem solving, and are naturally enthusiastic about asking questions and discover new knowledge.

Remember middle school? Students of this age are eager for socialization and are quickly learning to navigate the intricacies of group dynamics. This curriculum proposes team-based design challenges that push students to communicate and build trust to acheive common goals.