“Stuck in this wheel”: The use of design thinking for change in educational organizations

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Journal of Educational Change
Many of today’s educational organizations around the world contend with complex challenges. Yet, longstanding practices and norms in educational systems can hamper educators’ abilities to identify and address these challenges, such as only principals leading change efforts or the use of misaligned “quick fixes” for ill-defined challenges. A design-based approach to organizational change, on the other hand, holds promise to reframe change in local educational agencies like schools. Design thinking is one way to enact a design-based approach, but little research has investigated the process’s use to help educators conceptualize and implement change. Drawing upon transformational learning theory, this United States-based mixed-methods study examined a year-long professional learning workshop sponsored by a state education agency that used design thinking to reframe how participants orchestrated change in their contexts. Results indicated that design thinking helped participants devise more nuanced understandings of themselves and the change process in their contexts, yet, most participants’ actions continued to be influenced by longstanding practices and norms of the U.S. educational system. We close by discussing implications for practice and policy, particularly the need for professional learning experiences that prompt educators to critically reflect upon their mindsets and how their actions may differ from those mindsets. This greater understanding can better position educators to engage in change efforts that address increasingly complex challenges in education.
This version of the article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Educational Change, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-022-09462-6. This article will be embargoed until 08/08/2023.
design thinking, design-based approach, educational change, grammar of schooling, organizational problem-solving, professional learning, transformational learning
VanGronigen, B.A., Bailes, L.P. & Saylor, M.L. “Stuck in this wheel”: The use of design thinking for change in educational organizations. J Educ Change (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-022-09462-6