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The Design-Thinking Approach for the High-Ability Learners

Presenters : Eriyanty Mohd and Foo Ling Ling

The 16th Conference of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) was held in Dublin, Ireland from 8th – 11th August 2018. The theme for this event is Working with Gifted Students in the 21st Century’.  2 RGS teachers presented at the conference and it also provided a great networking opportunity with fellow educators, researchers and psychologists, to promote the exchange of ideas and information among people interested in this field.


Research and educational projects have shown that the ‘Design Thinking’ approach is critical in positively impacting student learning and achieving student learning outcomes at many levels. Raffles Girls’ School, a top Singapore school for 13-16 year old high-ability learners, has adopted the ‘Design Thinking’ approach in both the curriculum and its talent development programmes designed for its students. The use of the ‘Design Thinking’ approach as a pedagogy is ideal in challenging and stimulating the students to be more creative and risk-taking as they engage in design challenges. These are a few of the key 21st century competencies that have been identified by the Singapore Ministry of Education. The Ministry recognizes the importance of equipping the students in Singapore schools, with ‘inventive thinking and collaborative skills’ that are increasing essential in this globalised world. As Barron (2006) has noted, design-thinking given its solution-based approach has the potential to impact learning positively for it involves critical and creative thinking skills in a social context where students collaboratively immerse themselves in an issue of their choice for investigation, to define the problems, ideate solutions, create and test their prototype(s). This presentation will share how in the design of the Geography curriculum, and the specially designed talent development programmes for the high ability learners, such as the development of student leaders, the key components of design process such as ‘human-centered’ and ‘action-oriented’ (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, 2007) are used to create meaningful learning experiences both within and outside the classroom. Students would then have the “what if,” “what could be,” and “what might happen” experiences (Wong, 2007), and most importantly develop them to be active citizens and stewardship of the environment and the community.