Introverts at

the d.school

 

Growing out of personal experiences in the d.school, a colleague and I wanted to explore the question, "What is the experience of introverts at the d.school?" We talked to 15 students who self-define as introverts about their experiences at the d.school and to faculty and staff about  teaching to all different kinds of learners. Our findings have led to several prototypes currently in testing.

 

We synthesized our learnings into six categories to brainstorm around:

  • Teamwork

  • Getting to know others

  • Design process

  • Self

  • Leadership

  • Being intentional 

 

After determining these categories, we began to brainstorm (photos from our brainstorming sessions below) and realized that our ideas were generally centered around two types of experiences. First, we were noticing that many of our data points were about our users' reaction to specific parts of the design process - brainstorming, empathy. Second, we wanted to capitalize on our users' ablities to reflect on their experience of the design process and reflect on what they had learned about themselves - their leadership roles, their moments of discomfort. 

 

Out of this brainstorming session, we decided to focus on two prototypes to try out during the spring 2015 quarter. 

 

Our first prototype was a class called "Design & Me." It was a one-hour class that students could take in addition to a full-quarter class at the d.school that would help them intentionally reflect on what they were learning about themselves as people, not just designers, by taking that class. The curriculum from this class prototype can be accessed by clicking on the pdf button to the right of this paragraph.

 

Through our ethnographic research, we found that students who took the time to reflect were able to leave their d.school class with a stronger understanding of themselves. However, finding the time to reflect proved challenging, given the other demands of their class. Design & Me provided students time and structure for their reflections. 

Our second prototype is a set of "introvert-friendly" brainstorming activities. When considering our findings about the introvert's experience of the Design Process, brainstorming frequently came up as a moment of tension. It was a part of the process that self-defining introverts enjoyed - coming up with interesting new ideas is frequently noted by design students as a high point in the process - but the process of brainstorming taught at the d.school often clashed with an introvert's style of thinking and processing. Below is a document we created covering new techniques to both "Harness the strengths of an introvert" and "increase the comfort level of an introvert." Below is the document I created, laying out the different techniques. I taught these techniques at a d.school teacher's lounge, to 15+ d.school educators.