Design thinking - learning and its impact on students' learning for the 21st century


Lifelong learning is imperative to thrive in the 21st century's volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world brought about by rapid advancement in digital technology (Hart Research Associates, 2013). Higher education has not kept pace with the evolving technology (Le Blanc, 2018). There is a disconnection between workforce and work in the 21st century (The Foundation for Young Australians, 2018). This VUCA future of unparalleled disruption necessitates a workforce of agile lifelong learners who are flexible, quick to respond, experimenting, performance and interpersonal risk taking, collaborating, information gathering, feedback seeking and reflecting (Woodward, 2017).

This study aims to investigate whether courses that incorporate the design thinking process could inculcate in learners' a growth mindset and self-regulated learning for lifelong learning. Using a convergent mixed method approach, this study will examine three different courses at UQ that currently incorporate design thinking over three distinct phases. Phase one will use document review and content analysis to examine course documents to categorise the extent of design thinking evident in the courses. In the second phase, classroom observations and thematic analysis will be carried out to evidence how the design thinking process is being implemented. The third phase will use pre and post surveys and students' self-reflections to investigate whether the design thinking process used in the courses could have inculcated in learners a growth mindset and self-regulated learning for lifelong learning.

Overall, this study seeks to explore whether implementation of design thinking in higher education could improve the current disconnection between workforce and work to meet the expectations of the rapidly evolving VUCA world and enhance employment of graduates.

Advisors:  Dr Deanne Gannaway (Principal) and A/Prof Jason Lodge

Panel: Dr Simone Smala (Chair) and Dr Kate McLay

About HDR Confirmation Seminars

The Confirmation Seminar is the first public presentation in the UQ milestone process.

Staff and students are urged to attend to support your colleagues at this first outing of their project.




room 202a, Learning Innovation Building (building 17)