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Design Thinking at GCC

Creativity. Innovation. Scholarship.

Hello! My name is Shelley Aronoff. I teach social science at Glendale Community College. For the past two years I’ve taught a class on Urban Education in America, in which my students work in teams to identify an issue related to the material covered in class and explore it in detail using a process called design thinking. 

Design thinking allows students to gain deep knowledge about an issue by providing a framework for problem solving. While engaged in a semester-length design thinking project, students learn to listen to team members’ ideas and develop the confidence to communicate their own ideas. The time spent collaborating in teams helps students understand the work is not personal; it is not about being right. The goal is to identify the path leading to the best result, regardless of who came up with the original idea. Students learn that ideas evolve. An idea can begin with one student in one form and, with ongoing input from the team, result in an outcome no single person could have envisioned. Students also learn to view failure as an opportunity for reflection and growth.

As the semester progresses, I have an opportunity to witness students’ creativity come alive. Few students have been given an opportunity to develop an original solution to a contemporary problem and, although initially wary, over time they embrace the challenge. The result is a sense of pride in the work accomplished.

The most meaningful thing I’ve experienced teaching design thinking to community college students has been helping them to discover their creative potential and to regard failure as a part of a process, not an end result. Design thinking empowers students to view themselves as innovators, problem solvers, and scholars.

I invite you to explore past projects. The format I've selected to display student work is modeled after Design for America, where students from the best private and public universities in the country are working to solve the world’s problems using the design thinking process. 

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