Design Thinking for High Impact Learning: Rethinking the Academic Toolkit

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

Are you hopping on the design thinking train? Learn how faculty, staff, and students at Dartmouth College are applying design thinking to curriculum, research, entrepreneurship, and life. In this session, we will briefly introduce design thinking principles, then participants will apply the process to their campuses, organizations, and lives.


Mike Goudzwaard is a Learning Designer for in-person and online courses at Dartmouth College and a mentor and supervisor in the college’s Learning Assistant program. He works with faculty to empower student learning through community engagement, emerging instructional pedagogy, and educational technology. Mike is the Lead Designer and Developer for Dartmouth's digital learning initiatives. He leads the Learning Design group of technologists, faculty developers, and pedagogy experts who work to align space and technical resources for learning at Dartmouth. Mike writes at

Extended Abstract

Over the past several years, design thinking has grown as a discipline and practice at Dartmouth College. Starting first as a single design thinking course at the Thayer School of Engineering, then growing to a senior capstone project, and then implemented in strategic planning processes, design thinking is sweeping our campus.  

First students were trained in design thinking in Engineering 12, a Dartmouth elective course, focusing on the design thinking process. Those students selected a campus challenge, prototyped a solution and pitched that to administrators. Projects ranged from rethinking the residential housing system to improving the student course selection process. Most recently, students pitched a course focused on reimagining the capstone thesis through the Senior Design Challenge (SDC). The SDC allows seniors to apply design thinking principles in multidisciplinary teams to solve big challenges.

Campus leaders are also using design thinking to build an evidence-rich transcript, and embed reflection across the student experience. This new portfolio-transcript will allow students to provide evidence, reflect, and curate a narrative around their learning. Design thinking at Dartmouth is moving from a novel concept to a shared practice. Applications of design thinking are popping up around topics such as “Design Your Life,” a spin-off from both a popular Stanford course and book by the same title.

The design thinking process is proving relevant to learning, business, and life’s grand challenges. In this workshop, participants will explore opportunities to apply the design thinking process to address the their own challenges in research, learning, and their communities.

In this session, we intend to:

  • Give a brief primer on design thinking at Dartmouth in specific areas and applications.

  • Identify areas where design thinking could be used to support both you and your work.

  • Develop ideas for bringing design thinking to your curriculum.

This will be a fast-paced session where we will share our own expertise and experience, while harvesting the wisdom of “the room” and developing new ideas and applications.