Motivating students and grasping their interest is a challenging job for teachers. It is becoming even harder nowadays with the advancement of technology and the endless flow of information. However, the evolvement of new technologies, techniques, methods and methodologies support teachers and trainers in their endeavors in the classroom. They are becoming more creative and succeed at finding new way to capture their students’ attention. One of the approaches that is applied very often is Design thinking.
It is a learning approach, method and mindset which involves collaboration, problem-solving and creativity development. In reality, the design process is a structured framework in order to identify, define and specify a challenge to be solved and by sourcing ideas, information to develop, test and validate new solutions, and further refining ideas. It is very flexible approach and framework that can be easily applied in various learning environments and settings with diverse groups of learners, participants and members of teams who work together in the Design thinking process. It is a very suitable tool for encouraging students and increasing their motivation in the education process. Students are motivated by hands-on practice, real experience and involvement in the work process in companies. Thus, combining the apprenticeship offered at VET schools with the novel method of Design thinking could convey very good results and engage students. They become part of the company not only in fulfilling their tasks and everyday work but also by being involved in solving challenges of the business and working with the management of the company and the decision makers. When students are asked about their opinion and are given the opportunity to generate meaningful ideas and solutions this leads to better performance and higher engagement as they take up higher responsibility and become a valuable member of the team at the company.
Various techniques and tools exist to motivate students but the most successful ones are outside the classroom. Creative settings and involvement in processes like brainstorming, prototyping, testing, validation, collection of information, opinions, feedback, and other activities and exercises are part of the Design thinking process. When they are done in business setting with managers, trainers and employees of the company students could achieve better results and go beyond their expectations and limitations. The development of higher employability and problem-solving skills together with creativity, analytical and teamworking skills are the main benefits and ultimate goals of the school teachers and company trainers in this process. One of the key success factors for the applied model is the strategic partnerships between VET schools and companies with engagement by both parties and structured governance and coordination.