People Place Process – A self-reflection tool to become a professional in design thinking, based on Pedagogical Action Research

Véronique Hillen's Ph.D., 23rd May 2017


The nature of design thinking projects requires a great capacity to solve situated-inquiry problems (versus technical problem solving – Schön). Design thinking requires practitioners to become reflective professionals. This piece of research provides a protocol and tools to guide their journey of self-reflection:

  • A new action research protocol (derived from Pedagogical Action Research) for design thinking practitioners,
  • A conceptual framework (People Place Process) to guide design thinking development, in both academic and business environments,
  • A scale-up model to develop design thinking pedagogy at the scale of an individual educator, a university and a government,
  • An activity framework for both academic and business users to identify competences developed with (and required for) design thinking projects

Pedagogical action research represents the oldest strand of action research, reaching back to the Science of Education movement in the late nineteenth century (Bain, Boone) and revived in the early twentieth century by the work of John Dewey. The ultimate goal of reflective teaching is to develop teachers’ skills in ‘‘reflection-in-action”, i.e., their ability to frame and reframe problems, find solutions instantly on the basis of their interpretation and analysis of the situation, and construct new meanings and directions for future actions (Schön). The protocol and tools developed in this research have been adapted to design thinking projects, both in academic and business contexts.