Design Thinking: Understand


Why Understand?

Understand is the first step in the design thinking process. It is about gaining a deep understanding of the problem or challenge that you are trying to solve. It involves asking questions, doing research, and observing the people who are affected by the problem. Understanding is not about coming up with solutions, but rather about building a strong foundation of knowledge and empathy that will inform the rest of the design process.

Without a solid understanding of the problem or challenge, it’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions that might not be accurate. By taking the time to truly understand the problem and the people who are affected by it, you can design solutions that are more effective, efficient, and impactful.

Real World Example — Designing a Playground with Students

Here’s an example of how a K-5 students might use the understand step in the design thinking process. Let’s say that students are tasked with designing a new playground for their school. During the Understand step, they would start by asking questions, such as “What do kids like to do on the playground?” and “What are the biggest problems with the current playground?” They might also do research by looking at other playground designs or talking to experts in playground design. Finally, they might observe their classmates and other kids using the current playground to see how they interact with it.

Tips for Working with Students

  1. Encourage curiosity: The Understand step is all about asking questions and seeking out new information. Encourage your students to be curious and to ask as many questions as they can think of.
  2. Use a variety of research methods: Research can take many forms, from reading books to conducting surveys to watching videos. Encourage your students to use a variety of research methods to gain a well-rounded understanding of the problem.
  3. Practice active listening: When observing people, it’s important to listen actively and pay attention to both what they say and what they do. Encourage your students to take notes and ask follow-up questions to deepen their understanding.

Check Your Understanding

  • What is the Understand step in the design thinking process?

a. Coming up with solutions

b. Building a foundation of knowledge and empathy

c. Asking questions

  • Why is the Understand step essential to design thinking?

a. It helps you jump to conclusions

b. It allows you to design more effective solutions

c. It’s the easiest step

  • How might a K-5 student use the Understand step in designing a new playground?

a. By drawing pictures of the playground

b. By asking questions and doing research

c. By building a prototype of the playground