Life Design at BGSU broadens impact through new collaboration with nationally-ranked teacher education program

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Committed to redefining student success, Life Design at Bowling Green State University continues to build momentum and broaden its impact across the learning community through new, innovative partnerships.

Life Design at BGSU and the College of Education and Human Development recently collaborated on a new course to empower future educators with design thinking skills to bolster their professional success.

The course, Design Thinking for Inclusive Educators, emphasizes using design thinking methodologies to address the unique challenges students may face in the classroom that extend beyond the scope of being an educator.

“BGSU does an exemplary job preparing our students to be teachers,” said Dr. Emilio Duran, a science education professor in the School of Inclusive Teacher Education and director of the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education (NWO/COSMOS). “There are so many intricacies within the teaching profession beyond planning lessons and developing learners. This class explores the complexities of today’s educational landscape and provides pre-service teachers with the tools to overcome those challenges.”

Topics addressed throughout the course include understanding the effects of teacher burnout, how teachers can help students struggling with mental health issues and responding to trauma-induced incidents and students' subsequent emotions.

Since Life Design launched at BGSU in 2020, it has steadily expanded across the University. Developed by entrepreneurs and brought to education, Life Design leverages design thinking principles to equip students with the tools to navigate challenges and empower them to design their futures.

To align with the experiences of various populations on campus, the Life Design curriculum from the first-year seminar BGSU 1910 has been integrated into numerous courses and programs, including business, criminal justice and leadership.

BGSU Athletics partnered with Life Design last year to integrate design thinking principles into courses, workshops and mentorship of student-athletes.

Duran co-teaches Design Thinking for Inclusive Educators with Life Design Coach Jennifer Fong. They combine expertise in teacher preparation and design thinking while modeling collaboration, one of the six Life Design mindsets.

“Collaboration is one of the tenets of Life Design, and I think we exemplify that in our co-teaching model,” Fong said. “Seeing it in action will help enhance the students’ collaboration skills as teachers in the field.”

Through group discussions, presentations, reflection exercises and hands-on inquiry-based activities, students learned how to use the creative problem-solving framework of design thinking to reflect, align their interests with career goals and develop workable solutions to challenges.

Students further applied their knowledge by presenting ways to solve complex problems to a panel of current teachers, who provided feedback on the feasibility of the proposed solutions. 

As longtime teachers, Duran and Fong shared stories from their years in the classroom, another core principle of the Life Design mindsets. Two local school district superintendents also visited the class to share their unique experiences in education. 

“Teaching is one of the noblest professions a person can pursue,” Duran said. “We don’t want our students to work so hard to become teachers and then question their career choice within the first few years of teaching because of issues they may face. We’re providing our students with the tools to address the challenges presented to them so they can have fulfilling and rewarding careers.”

Morgan Hall, who is majoring in early childhood education, said she envisions relying on the knowledge she gained from the design thinking course during student teaching in Fall 2024 and throughout her career.

“BGSU has prepared me to be an amazing teacher, and through this course, I’ve learned even more,” Hall said. “It’s reassuring to know that I can rely on design thinking skills to help me navigate challenges I encounter as a new teacher both inside and outside the classroom.”

Updated: 06/11/2024 01:30PM