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Design Thinking in Secondary Education: Required Teacher Skills

Virtual Campus Lda, 4425-672 Maia, Portugal
European Training and Research Association for a Cooperation Key to Business, 04019 Terracina, Italy
Department of Informatics, South-West University Neofit Rilski, Ivan Mihaylov str., 2700 Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Governorship of Istanbul, 34110 Istanbul, Turkey
Faculty of Education, Yildiz Technical University, 34349 Istanbul, Turkey
Instituto Superior de Engenharia, Instituto Politécnico do Porto, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(10), 969;
Submission received: 2 August 2023 / Revised: 30 August 2023 / Accepted: 11 September 2023 / Published: 22 September 2023
(This article belongs to the Section Teacher Education)


Design Thinking (DT) is a design process originally used in the conception and validation of innovative and technologically efficient human-centered solutions for ill-formed problems. Being an iterative and collaborative process with a human point of view, DT allows adopters to improve several intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, like collaboration, creative thinking, leadership, presentation, project management, ethics, storytelling, negotiation, empathy, willingness to learn, etc. As such, DT has been adopted in several other areas and has also become highly relevant in educational contexts to develop the aforementioned skills in students. It has also been shown to contribute to minimizing the school dropout problem by keeping students motivated and integrated in the school context. Nevertheless, to be successfully implemented, DT requires that the overall educational context is adapted and that teachers are trained to be able to guide, support, and give feedback to students. With that objective in mind and following an analysis of the current situation in secondary education schools in four European countries, a teacher training model was designed to organize and systematize the process of developing teachers’ abilities to manage an educational DT approach. This article presents the analysis of the current situation from the point of view of teachers and students and gives some hints on the resulting teacher training model for integrating Design Thinking skills within secondary education.

1. Introduction

Education is a key element in building a society. One of the most important sources of education is school, as a host of formal education, even though individuals, as social beings, also construct their knowledge in non-formal and informal ways. It is therefore highly important for the development of citizens and society to invest in initiatives and projects that guarantee that everyone has the same opportunities and that schools are truly able to provide a good environment for all, ensuring that everyone is motivated to complete their educational path and is prepared for their personal, professional, and social role in society. Nevertheless, traditional passive learning approaches based on expository lectures do not motivate students to continue in school and do not develop the required skills for current societal challenges—active learning methodologies are required to achieve that [1].
Active learning is rooted in the constructivist learning theory, which emphasizes that individuals build their knowledge by connecting new ideas and experiences to their own pre-existing knowledge and experiences to form new or enhanced understanding. The theory grounded in work by Piaget and others, posits that learners assimilate new information by incorporating it into an existing framework, even if that information contradicts prior understanding [2]. Approaches that promote active learning often explicitly ask learners to make connections between new information and their current mental models, extending their understanding. In other cases, teachers may design learning activities that allow learners to confront misconceptions, helping learners reconstruct their mental models based on more accurate understanding [3].
Active learning approaches often embrace the use of collaborative and/or cooperative learning groups, a constructivist-based practice that places particular emphasis on the contribution that social interaction can make. Lev Vygotsky’s work elucidated the relationship between cognitive processes and social activities and led to the sociocultural theory of development, which suggests that learning takes place when learners solve problems beyond their current developmental level, with the support of their instructor or their peers [4].
Approaches that promote active learning focus more on developing learners’ skills than on transmitting information and require that learners do something—read, discuss, write—that requires higher-order thinking. Therefore, the role of the teacher changes from lecturer to tutor and the role of the pupil changes from passive receiver to active designer of knowledge. When teachers serve as collaborators, co-learners, and mentors rather than as authoritative figures dispensing factual information, they rest on the same epistemological grounds as their learners. This is a key point. When the contestability of any and all ideas (even one’s own) is recognized, a learning space is created where critical commentary becomes something not to be feared but to be relished and embraced. Learners become actively engaged in the construction of knowledge. When learners problematize an issue, their focus shifts from articulating the meaning in other people’s ideological positions and theories to theorizing their own experience within the context of the “content” introduced in the course. In this way, learners become active knowledge producers instead of passive recipients.
Design Thinking (DT) is an exemplary active learning methodology. At its core, DT is an iterative design process that focuses on creative problem-solving and encourages individuals to think outside the box, to collaborate, and to empathize with users. DT offers a powerful approach to develop transversal skills in educational settings by cultivating creative thinking, leadership, presentation skills, project management, ethics, storytelling, negotiation, empathy, and a willingness to learn through an iterative and collaborative process. Design Thinking also develops critical thinking skills, enhances creativity, and promotes collaboration among students [5,6,7]. All these skills are increasingly valued by employers and are vital for the students’ long-term success in facing the challenges of the 21st century. As such, DT has gained significant attention in education in recent years [8,9], particularly because traditional teaching methods do not develop these skills [10].
Collaboration is a key skill fostered by Design Thinking, as it encourages students to work in multidisciplinary teams, share ideas, and leverage diverse perspectives [11,12]. Creative thinking is another core aspect as it promotes the generation of novel solutions and encourages students to think critically and imaginatively [13]. Leadership skills are also nurtured through DT as students are encouraged to take initiative, guide group discussions, and effectively communicate their ideas [11]. Good presentation skills play a vital role in the process as students learn to articulate and visualize their concepts effectively to communicate their ideas to others [14]. Project management is another critical skill developed through DT as students learn to plan, organize, and execute their projects within given constraints [13]. Ethics and storytelling are emphasized in Design Thinking by fostering a sense of responsibility and integrity among students [14]. Negotiation skills are also developed as students collaborate with team members, reconcile conflicting ideas, and reach consensus [15]. Empathy, a central pillar of DT, enables students to understand and address the needs of end-users, promoting human-centered design solutions [11]. Lastly, the willingness to learn is inherent in the process, as students are encouraged to embrace failure, iterate, and continuously improve their ideas [15].
To maximize the potential benefits of DT in education, it is essential to establish a teacher training model that supports its implementation. This model should aim to increase the academic success of teachers, enhance professional development opportunities, and equip educators with the necessary resources and mindset to teach DT skills effectively. By providing teachers with guidance and feedback, they can effectively guide and support students through the process. Moreover, the model should seek to empower educational authorities, policymakers, and decision-makers to promote mainstream DT practices. This involves strengthening their capacity to understand and support the integration of DT in curricula and educational policies also because the implementation of DT in education has been linked to a decrease in early school dropout (ESD) rates. Schütte et al. attribute this effect to the engaging nature of Design Thinking, which emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning and contributes to increased student motivation and interest in education [16]. By providing students with a sense of ownership and relevance in their learning experiences, DT can help reduce disengagement and dropout rates.
The conceptual design of the model was supported by an analysis in four European countries, from the point of view of teachers and students, ensuring that the learning requirements that were identified considered diverse economic, cultural, and educational environments. This document presents the study that led to that analysis and traces the teacher training model.

2. Background

Design Thinking is a user-centric approach to design, focusing on developing appropriate solutions for business or social challenges by deeply understanding how users interact with a proposed product or service. In a business context, its primary goal is to improve customer experiences and foster company growth [17]. The Design Thinking process is organized into five stages (Figure 1) according to the framework proposed by the Stanford [6,11,18,19]:
  • Stage 1: Empathize—the first step is related to understanding the real needs of a specific group. This helps to gain an empathetic understanding of the problem through research, observations, interviews, or any other process that allows understanding the problem from the users’ point of view.
  • Stage 2: Define—the second step is related to defining the problems based on the research performed in the first step. This includes introducing a problem statement based on the perspective gained previously.
  • Stage 3: Ideate—the third step is related to introducing solutions to problems. This includes “thinking out of the box” and searching for alternatives and identifying innovative solutions to problems. In the end, a decision is made to implement in the next step.
  • Stage 4: Prototype—the fourth step is related to building a representation of the idea conceived in the previous step in the form of a product, service, project, framework or other.
  • Stage 5: Test—the last step is related to implementing the solution and testing it through the involvement of the users. If the solution proves to be not adequate for the problem, it implies returning to a previous DT step.
Figure 1. Design Thinking stages [18].
Figure 1. Design Thinking stages [18].
Education 13 00969 g001
As mentioned before, the successful adoption of DT in education was due “to the core of the design concept, which encompasses elements such as thinking, developing empathy, promoting action-oriented prejudices, developing meta-cognitive awareness, being active, problem solving, and using one’s imagination” [20]. Design Thinking requires learners to be active at all moments, so it promotes active learning, which is commonly defined as a methodological process that scaffolds an organized set of activities that learners do to construct knowledge and understanding through the involvement of higher-order thinking [21,22]. Metacognition—learners’ thinking about their own learning—is an equally important element, and active learning strategies should include instructional activities involving learners in doing things and thinking about what they are doing. These activities can range from very simple (e.g., pausing lectures to allow learners to clarify and organize their ideas by discussing with peers) to complex (e.g., using case studies as a focal point for decision-making).
It has been shown that with the Design Thinking methodology, students tend to be more dedicated and to put more effort in the idealization and drawing steps than while immersed in traditional teaching [23,24]. It also enables the students to easily create new options, think of new solutions, and register insights. It is considered a great tool to support the activities of discussing and sharing thoughts, as it supports the process of working in groups and has a positive impact on the social development dimension of students.
The mentality, values, and set of skills that DT develops in learners, thanks to the thought processes implicit in the different stages, make them more tolerant and sensitive to cultural problems and to those topics directly related to language and culture, such as cultural conflicts, racial and/or linguistic discrimination, mediation and identity problems, stereotypes, or globalization, among others. Therefore, the methodology also influences the development of the social–affective awareness of students. Affective competence is especially developed by the abductive thinking process, which, by fostering thinking in new and different perspectives, detaches itself from pre-established models and considers that feelings and emotions are as important as rationality [25].
A study conducted by Laranjeiro showed that, through the implementation of the DT methodology and thanks to the empathy that was generated in the most diverse situations, interpersonal relationships among classmates were strengthened, and team spirit was reinforced. Moreover, this same research showed that the culmination of the design process enabled children to make their weaknesses a matter for reflection, creating something that could make them feel proud and comfortable to share their identity [26].
Moreover, the methodology helps students to better tackle user needs and understand the problem they are dealing with. In this way, it is easier to identify the principles that support knowledge and, hence, meet learning objectives. DT also develops students’ capabilities in terms of systematization of the creation process, which develops their cognition.
Lastly, when combined with other teaching methodologies, such as PBL and gamification, DT engages students in learning activities and helps them to become independent, aware, and critical citizens, responsible for exercising their profession and self-managing their lifelong learning process by privileging the affective and intellectual dimensions of learning [27].

Design Thinking and Early School Dropout

Early school dropout (ESD) is defined as a situation in which a student stops attending school without having completed the minimal required qualification. ESD is a very complex and multifaceted phenomenon that results from a combination of social, economic, educational, and even personal (family) factors. In fact, although it is often associated with socioeconomic disadvantages, the decision is rarely sudden or the result of an isolated episode and normally originates from a long (and quite visible) process of disinterest and failure. The six main causes that have been proposed for ESD are (1) a mismatch between school and student reality; (2) poor family cooperation with the school; (3) an inadequate response of the school to the expectations of teachers and students, families, or society; (4) poor pedagogical preparation of teachers; (5) a lack of reading habits; and (6) a lack of study methods [28]. Other frequent causes are related to special needs not being catered to; personal or family-related problems; bad relations with professors; poor relationships with peers or a negative school climate (including the existence of bullying); health problems and dissatisfaction with the results obtained; socioeconomic status, such as a lack of money to continue school or having to start to work at an earlier age to help in the household; the cultural identity of the family, which can enter into conflict with the school system; and family members’ dedication to, and expectations of, the student [29].
In 2010, the goal of the European Union was to lower the early school dropout rate below 10% by 2020. The “European Toolkit for Schools” was created with an aim to promote inclusive education and combat ESD. This guide provides useful information, examples of measures, reference materials, and a set of tools with concrete ideas aimed at improving the actions of schools to enable all students to be successful. The support students receive from teachers is the most important enhancer of school engagement. This strong relationship is linked to social, emotional, and behavioral well-being and attitudes. Increasingly, teachers are expected to become facilitators of learning [30]. By continually motivating, guiding, and supporting students, teachers can help students to control their own learning. This approach requires teachers to develop a strong, trust-based relationship with students and their parents, thereby developing positive environments in classrooms and schools.
Students’ needs are presented as the central focus of education. All students are entitled to high-quality teaching, a relevant curriculum, appropriate assessment, and valuable learning opportunities. Schools must provide an environment that accommodates the diversity of students, including their various learning needs, to maximize the potential of each young person. Quality education must be designed and tailored to students, rather than forcing them to adjust to an existing system. This approach should guarantee their participation in the learning process, as well as the perception of a clear purpose for their studies. These are important incentives for their permanence in the school system, and a support framework should be in place that consists of a wide range of different measures for different groups of students.
By adopting DT in the classroom, the educational model is enriched by making the object of discovery fascinating and involving, motivating, and guiding the students as “design thinkers” towards personal and educational success. Thus, DT becomes a glue that keeps teams together, allowing students to take intuitive leaps, think differently, and see old problems in new ways. This promotes students’ creative confidence, achieved through active problem solution promotion, while combating early-school leaving, as teachers can create a more immersive curriculum focused on real-world problem-solving, where students can solve creatively and infuse meaning into what students learn, regardless of the subject or grade.
One of the justifications for dropping out of school is the inadequacy of the teaching method for some students [28]. Therefore, the whole learning process should be adapted to the reality of teachers and students. The DT methodology can be of acute importance to changing the early school dropout scenario, as it stimulates innovation and the search for the most suitable solutions for the most varied types of problems.
The Design Thinking methodology is by nature multidisciplinary; hence, it can be implemented in a vast series of contexts and supportive of people from different backgrounds and with different goals. Since a main educational problem is to have adequate learning techniques that boost and support students’ learning, the application of the DT methodology, as it promotes greater engagement and more active participation of students in the learning process, will, by deduction, avoid the early school dropout of students. By using the Design Thinking methodology, students are more integrated in the learning process because they develop their skills through a problem-solving approach based on real-life situations while immersed in a collaborative environment.
To sum up, changing the curriculum to integrate DT within the traditional school system can lower school dropout rates as DT is an innovative learning process that is adapted not only to the students’ reality, but also to the teachers’. In fact, when educators are exposed to DT methodology, they are better able to conceptualize individual ideas and perspectives on various topics. They acquire the ability to plan more dynamic classes that are in accordance with the level of knowledge of all those involved. As such, DT is one of the most efficient ways to transform teaching and empower teachers.

3. Research and Results

A status analysis was deployed to uncover how Design Thinking and problem-solving skills were being deployed in several European countries within the existing education system and how those approaches were integrated into different disciplines. The study was conducted during the first semester of 2021 in four European countries: Portugal, Italy, Turkey, and Bulgaria. These countries were selected to provide a sufficiently diverse cultural basis while having schools directly accessible by the promoters of the study. The participating schools were randomly selected among the ones that accepted the invitation to contribute to the study (all the invited schools were considered typical secondary education schools in each country). Participants of the study were teachers and students; in total, 479 participants (233 teachers and 246 students) were involved in the analysis after a purposeful sampling was used in selecting participants amongst the classes proposed by the directors of each school. Two questionnaires, one for teachers and one for students, were developed by the researchers. Items were developed based on the DT process in the literature. The questionnaires were reviewed by one expert from each country. Original versions of questionnaires were prepared in English and then translated into the language of the countries where these instruments were implemented by researchers from each country.
The teachers’ profiles are given in Table 1 (note that, as answers to the questions were not compulsory, the number of respondents might vary).
As can be seen from Table 1, 27 teachers from Portugal, 63 from Turkey, 68 from Bulgaria, and 75 from Italy participated in the study. Participants were well distributed between countries, even if there are fewer teachers in Portugal. While teachers between the ages of 41 and 50 years old have a higher percentage, the age distribution, except for those older than 60, is quite balanced. In terms of gender, most teachers were female. Most of them had a bachelor/graduate degree and a third of them had a post-graduate degree. Considering teaching experience, it was noted that participants include both novice and experienced teachers. Most teachers taught at the lower secondary education level, but the higher secondary education level was also well represented. There was also a balanced distribution of teachers between the different subject areas.
For ethical and data protection reasons, the profiles of the students had more limited information and did not include any private information (Table 2).
Again, there is a slight predominance of answers from Turkey, with a balanced distribution between the other countries. Most students came from lower secondary education.
Teachers were asked if they thought that Design Thinking skills were already included in the curriculum and, if so, how. A set of statements was created, trying to relate the DT stages with the acquisition of those skills through different activities. Teachers were asked to express their agreement with that set of statements through a Likert scale ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”. Descriptive statistics were then applied to the results to allow for their analysis (Table 3). The analysis of the reliability of the questionnaires was carried out via estimation of Cronbach’s α and McDonald’s ω using the Jamovi software [31,32,33]. Both coefficients are very high and confirm the reliability of the survey results (α = 0.916; ω = 0.918).
The answers indicate that, in the teachers’ practice, some DT activities are included in the curriculum but rather sparsely, and clearly not in a systematic way. These activities correspond mostly to the initial stages of DT. The ranked list of DT skills currently involved in the curriculum is presented next:
  • Generating ideas for the solution of problems (Ideate);
  • Doing research to understand the problems (Empathy);
  • Identifying problems related to real life (Define);
  • Decision-making for solving problems (Ideate);
  • Transforming ideas produced for the solution of problems into products (Prototype);
  • Using the manufactured products in problem-solving (Prototype);
  • Evaluating the effect of the developed product on problem-solving (Test).
Students were asked to rate some statements given, with the aim of understanding whether Design Thinking skills are supported in their classes. The aspect of collaboration and feedback was also included in this survey as it is a relevant aspect of the methodology. Considering the age of the students, it was decided to opt for a three-point Likert scale requiring a more quantitative analysis with the options “Never”, “Rarely”, “Sometimes”, “Mostly”, and “Always”. Descriptive statistics were then applied to the results to allow for their analysis (Table 4). Cronbach’s α and McDonald’s ω are very high and confirm the reliability of the survey results (α = 0.894; ω = 0.895).
Results show that students do not interact with end-users and hardly discuss real-life problems. Problems are apparently given to students in a prepared format that does not require analysis and interpretation and students generate immediate ideas for the solutions to those problems. In any case, students collaborate towards that end and are supported by their teachers in the process.
The ranked list of DT skills indicated by the students is presented next:
  • Generating ideas for the solution of problems (Ideate);
  • Making decisions to solve problems (Ideate);
  • Implementing the plan made for problem-solving (Test);
  • Self-evaluating the problem-solving process (Test);
  • Making plans for problem-solving (Prototype);
  • Evaluating the effect of applying the decision on problem-solving (Test);
  • Doing research to understand the problems (Empathy);
  • Defining problems according to the research results (Define);
  • Discussing real problems (Empathy);
  • Interviewing people to better understand the problems (Empathy).

4. Discussion

Looking at the answers, and the fact that almost all statements are positive (in the sense that teachers slightly agree with them and students mention their “sometimes–mostly” use), we can state that most DT activities are already in place in schools but in a casuistic and non-systematic process (note that the higher positive value of most of the mean scores in the students’ survey cannot be compared with the mean scores in the teachers’ survey as the phrasing and scale are different). Therefore, on one side, the training model must be flexible enough to validate and use existing individual teacher knowledge, but on the other side, the training model must incorporate a structure similar to actual DT methodology to allow teachers to understand it and to be able to chain present classroom activities in a connected and meaningful way.
Table 5 presents a comparative view of the ranked answers in the two surveys. Teachers and students agree that students are normally provided with very concrete and immediate problems that have immediate solutions (sometimes just one), which corresponds to the Ideate stage. Then, they are more concerned with creating, implementing, and testing prototypes for those solutions.
It is, however, interesting to notice that then the view of teachers and students is quite different. Teachers mention that the next most frequently used activities relate to the Empathy and Define stages, while students mention activities related to Test and Prototype. This might be a perceptual issue related to the actual preferences of the teachers and students, the first leaning towards conceptual tasks and the latter leaning towards practical activities. Looking specifically at each DT stage, we can then state the following:
Empathy: As mentioned before, activities in this stage, like “interviewing people to understand the problems” and “discussing real problems”, are not applied in classrooms. So, the skills related to this stage should be emphasized in the training model so that teachers can implement activities promoting students’ active involvement in problem-solving.
Define: In this stage as well, there is an incongruence between the answers in the two survey results. This stage is in second place in the teacher survey, while it is next to last in the student survey. As such, there is a need to train teachers to better convey the skills associated with this stage.
Ideate: It can be concluded that the skills related to decision-making and generating ideas to solve problems are well addressed in current educational programs, but they should be developed to allow the generation of more solutions for a certain problem.
Prototype: Although students do see this stage as part of their current activities, it is clear that teachers should be helped to support students in the production and validation of different prototypes.
Test: It is very important for students to assess themselves in terms of problem-solving skills and to assess the implementation of prototypes. These two aspects should be taken into consideration in the development of the training model.
The idea of the training model derives from the previous analysis and focuses on developing the DT skills of teachers and increasing the academic success of students, thereby increasing the academic success of teachers, supporting the professional development of educators, empowering teachers/trainers/educators with resources to teach DT skills, and contributing to an increase in the academic success of students. Following the results of the analysis, the training model was conceived as an interactive, multi-level approach, which allows teachers to enter each stage at his/her own competence level, therefore bypassing the need to go through the complete training and focusing on the skills recommended for their own level of displayed competence (Figure 2). A self-reflection tool allows the teacher to assess their own knowledge in a certain moment and, later, a self-assessment tool allows teachers to verify what they have learned in that step.
So, although the training model covers all the conceptual and practical aspects related to Design Thinking, teachers can relate their teaching experience with the DT stages and understand what skills and competencies they already have and which ones they need to develop further.

5. Conclusions

Design Thinking (DT) is an exemplary methodology of active learning, focusing on creative problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, and critical thinking. It cultivates various transversal skills like leadership, presentation, project management, ethics, storytelling, negotiation, and the willingness to learn. By employing DT in education, students can develop the necessary skills for success in the 21st century—skills that are increasingly valued by employers—while also reducing school dropout rates. To maximize the benefits of DT in education, it is necessary to establish a teacher training model that supports its implementation and empowers educational authorities and decision-makers to promote mainstream DT practices. Our study showed that while DT is not being systematically applied by teachers, although some of the activities they already promote in the classroom do support active learning. These activities can be a starting point for teachers to understand and apply the full methodology by using a training model that helps them understand how to build upon their own knowledge and experience.
We cannot finish without pointing out some limitations of the study:
The involvement of only four countries from Southern and Eastern Europe naturally left some space for improvement in terms of distribution of participants from Northern and Central Europe, which could have provided different results as the literature shows that northern countries are quite used to applying active learning practices in school.
Although there was already a large number of participants in the study, it would certainly have led to stronger results if that number was even higher.
The concept of secondary education is different in the participating countries. Therefore, it would have been better to focus on a smaller age range rather than on secondary education in its entirety.
Even with these limitations, we consider that the study has led to extracting relevant conclusions towards the implementation of Design Thinking in secondary education.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, F.E., T.U. and B.Y.-T.; methodology, M.T., D.T., B.Y.-T. and C.V.d.C.; validation, C.N., M.T., A.M.D., B.G., F.E. and T.U.; formal analysis, D.T., B.Y.-T. and C.V.d.C.; writing—original draft preparation, C.N., M.T., B.G., F.E. and T.U.; writing—review and editing, A.M.D., B.Y.-T. and C.V.d.C.; project administration, F.E.; funding acquisition, F.E. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ KA2 program, grant number 2020-1-TR01-KA201-094174—DTS project: Professional Development of Teachers to Promote Design Thinking Skills and Academic Success of Students.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The study data are available upon request from the authors.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results.


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Figure 2. Proposed training model.
Figure 2. Proposed training model.
Education 13 00969 g002
Table 1. Teachers’ profiles.
Table 1. Teachers’ profiles.
Education LevelDiploma (Only for Italy)115
Bachelor/Graduate Degree14866
Teaching Experience0–56026
Level of Teaching aLower Secondary School12254
Both Lower and Upper Secondary School104
Both Primary School and Lower Secondary School52
Upper Secondary School6830
All School Levels31
Primary School198
Subjects TaughtArt104
Foreign Languages3114
Languages and Literature3616
Mathematics and ICT4520
Natural Sciences3817
Social Sciences2612
Other Subjects (Religion, Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Primary School Courses)2612
a To determine the level of teaching of the participants, the following distribution was considered in relation to the years of schooling: Turkey: 1–4 Primary, 5–8 Lower Secondary (preparatory class is optional), and 9–12 Upper Secondary. EU countries: 1–4 Primary, 5–7 Lower Secondary, and 8–12 Secondary School.
Table 2. Students’ profiles.
Table 2. Students’ profiles.
GradePreparation Class (in Turkey)72.9
Table 3. Results of the teacher survey.
Table 3. Results of the teacher survey.
Teachers’ SurveyStrongly DisagreeDisagreeSlightly AgreeAgreeStrongly AgreeTotalMeanσRank
  • The ability to do research to understand problems is included.
  • In the education curriculum, students identify problems related to real life.
  • The ability to generate ideas for the solution of problems is included in the current curriculum.
  • Decision-making skills for solving problems are included.
  • The ability to transform ideas produced for the solution of problems into products is included.
  • The use of manufactured products in problem-solving is included in the current curriculum.
  • Evaluations of the effect of the developed product on problem-solving are included in the current curriculum.
Table 4. Results of the student survey.
Table 4. Results of the student survey.
Students’ SurveyNeverRarelySometimesMostlyAlwaysTotalMeanσRank
  • In our lessons, we discuss real-life problems.
  • We do research to understand the problems.
  • We interview people who have problems to better understand the problems.
  • We define problems according to the results of our research.
  • We generate ideas for the solution of problems.
  • We make decisions to solve problems.
  • We make plans for problem-solving.
  • We implement the plan we made for problem-solving.
  • We evaluate the effect of applying our decision on problem-solving.
  • We evaluate ourselves in this process.
Collaboration and Feedback
  • We work in cooperation during the whole problem-solving process.
  • During the whole problem-solving process, our teachers regularly inform us about our work.
Table 5. Comparison of teacher and student survey results.
Table 5. Comparison of teacher and student survey results.
Skills According to TeachersSkills According to Students
1Generating ideas for the solution of problems (Ideate)Generating ideas for the solution of problems (Ideate)
2Doing research to understand the problems (Empathy)Making decisions to solve problems (Ideate)
3Identifying problems related to real life (Define)Implementing the plan made for problem-solving (Test)
4Decision-making for solving problems (Ideate)Self-evaluating the problem-solving process (Test)
5Transforming ideas produced for the solution of problems into products (Prototype)Making plans for problem-solving (Prototype)
6Using the manufactured products in problem-solving (Prototype)Evaluating the effect of applying the decision on problem-solving (Test)
7Evaluating the effect of the developed product on problem-solving (Test)Doing research to understand the problems (Empathy)
8 Defining problems according to the research results (Define)
Discussing real problems (Empathy)
Interviewing people to better understand the problems (Empathy)
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Novo, C.; Tramonti, M.; Dochshanov, A.M.; Tuparova, D.; Garkova, B.; Eroglan, F.; Uğraş, T.; Yücel-Toy, B.; Vaz de Carvalho, C. Design Thinking in Secondary Education: Required Teacher Skills. Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 969.

AMA Style

Novo C, Tramonti M, Dochshanov AM, Tuparova D, Garkova B, Eroglan F, Uğraş T, Yücel-Toy B, Vaz de Carvalho C. Design Thinking in Secondary Education: Required Teacher Skills. Education Sciences. 2023; 13(10):969.

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Novo, Carolina, Michela Tramonti, Alden Meirzhanovich Dochshanov, Daniela Tuparova, Boiana Garkova, Fatma Eroglan, Tuba Uğraş, Banu Yücel-Toy, and Carlos Vaz de Carvalho. 2023. "Design Thinking in Secondary Education: Required Teacher Skills" Education Sciences 13, no. 10: 969.

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