Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Heather Schugar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Laquana Cooke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Gerhart, Ed.D.


This study aimed to identify methodologies and practices that enable innovation to thrive in the public education system. Design thinking (DT) was selected for examination given its demonstrated ability to: (a) make people and teams more innovative , (b) change institutional cultures to be more creative and solution-oriented, and (c) create conditions necessary for innovation to thrive within established organizational structures. This intrinsic case study explored the experiences of a group of educators who used design thinking to innovate solutions to the intractable problems they faced. Participants in this study were teachers and administrators who received training in DT, and functioned in roles where DT is required as part of their professional practice as educational leaders. The data for this study included field observations, interviews, and documents, which were qualified using two cycle coding. In the first cycle, a priori codes were aligned to the Eight Design Abilities of Creative Problem Solvers, followed by a second round of in vivo coding that allowed natural themes to emerge. The analysis of results indicated that the use of DT: (1) created conditions whereby educators embodied the skillsets and mindsets of designers, (2) enabled educators to self-actualize their creative confidence, and (3) fostered universal collaboration. This study dovetails with other research supporting methods for practitioners of education leadership.