Design Thinking & Doing

Applying both design thinking and a proven, multistage design and development process to create an innovative and entrepreneurial solution to a problem.
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Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

A design thinking mindset combined with a well-tested, multistage process to design and develop a solution to a problem or challenge involves a deeper understanding of the human dimensions of the problem, rapid prototyping and testing cycles, and an entrepreneurial approach to rapidly evolve an innovative solution.

[Adapted from Bootcamp Bootleg (authorized by the Stanford University,, and Design Thinking @ Nueva School, Also see the Managing Project Cycles micro-credential.]

Method Components

As students undertake an activity, the teacher guides them through the five phases of design thinking. This process can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction. These strategies can be deployed as stand-alone activities or as a part of a lesson.

Phases of design thinking

  • Empathize and research
    • Observe people dealing with the challenges involved in the problem to be solved.
    • Engage people in interviews, surveys, and discussions.
    • Immerse yourself in other perspectives.
  • Define and focus
    • Develop a deep understanding of the design challenge and the people it affects.
    • Develop an actionable problem statement.
  • Generate ideas
    • Generate a large quantity and variety of ideas (see the Idea Generating & Brainstorming micro-credential)
  • Prototype and test in cycles
    • Choose the most promising ideas to make into a physical form-prototypes of possible solutions to the challenge.
    • Learn by building prototypes.
    • Fail quickly, often, and cheaply.
    • Incorporate lessons learned from the previous prototype into the next one.
  • Refine and review
    • Refine the final prototypes.
    • Get feedback from users and refine some more.
    • Review the results and, if needed, go back to a previous stage and work from there.

Suggested preparation

  • Students discuss what kinds of thinking lead to good problem solving and the design of good solutions, with examples they've experienced.
  • Share and discuss key design principles with students, such as:
    • Show, don't tell.
    • Focus on human values.
    • Craft a clear vision.
    • Embrace experimentation.
    • Mind the process.
    • Be biased toward action.
    • Go for diversity in your team of collaborators.
  • Explain that the design thinking and doing process involves five stages, done mostly in order, but that skipping around is common and prototyping and testing are often repeated, quickly incorporating what is learned from one prototype into the next version.

Suggested review

  • Students discuss how the design thinking and doing experience could be improved next time and explore other ways to apply design thinking to the real world and their own lives, including opportunities for entrepreneurship in providing a successful product or service to the world.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Design thinking and doing is a structured approach to generating ideas and creating solutions to making the world a better place though ingenuity, invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in design thinking and doing? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the activities, and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (writing, audio, images, video, and other products) that demonstrate progress toward the Design Thinking & Doing competency, including such items as samples of interviews of the people experiencing the problem, results of brainstorming sessions, evidence of the research done, examples of prototype solutions and how they were improved, evidence of presentations of the results, or other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit their student-created reflections on the Design Thinking & Doing activities they experienced. Use the following questions as guidance (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did using the design thinking and doing mindsets and design process help you and your group come up with creative solutions to the challenge you were tackling?
  • How did this learning activity change your view of creative problem solving and design and how the design thinking and doing process might be used to help create a better world?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the Design Thinking & Doing activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily future teaching practice?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Design Thinking & Doing
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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