Episode 56: Getting Unstuck - Study Guide for College Many of us feel stuck at one point or another: in the wrong city, the wrong path. Self help gurus have offered lots of advice — but here's a new idea, from the tech world.

Episode 56: Getting Unstuck - Study Guide for College

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Renee Klahr/NPR
Are you feeling Stuck?
Renee Klahr/NPR

Many people feel stuck. They struggle to make changes to their lives or to figure out what life they want to lead. It turns out that engineers and designers often face similar challenges when it comes to designing new products. How do you build something when you don't know what to build? Engineers and designers often take an approach called "design thinking." Design thinking is about recognizing what limits you, realizing there isn't just one answer, and then trying something.

Dave Evans used to work in Silicon Valley. He realized that design thinking could help people figure out their lives. Many of his students come to him saying they don't know what to do with their lives. They want to find the "right" answer. He tells them, "There is more than one you in there."


Study Guide Questions

1. Describe the difference between problem finding and problem solving.

2. How is prototyping like a psychological tool?

3. Why, according to Dave, are wicked problems particularly good for design thinking?

4. Define the difference between a problem and a circumstance.

5. What does Dave find when he has people write these paths down? Does he find that people are more or less satisfied with their decisions? Do you find this surprising? Why?

6. Christine says that, "with design thinking, your goal is to fail early and often." What do you think of this sentiment? Why is it important to learn from failure? What's an example you have of learning from failure?

7. Helen describes the work she does inside the home as art. What are some other things that you consider art but which may not always get credit as art?

8. When you think about the idea that there's more than one "right answer" when figuring out how to live your life, do you find this scary? Exciting? Both? Neither? Why?


Pick three careers you might want to pursue after college. Write down each of these options and why you chose them. Write for a few minutes about each of these different career paths. What do you think you would like about that career path? What do you think you wouldn't like about that career path?

For each of these paths, identify two ways you could 'prototype' being in that career.

Alternatively: Pick three ways you might want to spend the summer or your first year out of college.