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J.J. Bignetti Bechara, S. Piconez

University of São Paulo (BRAZIL)
The contributions of the Design Thinking approach in Education are being increasingly recognized and are inspiring innovative pedagogical projects in schools. Divergent and convergent thinking, which are core values in this approach, seeks to multiply options for exploring educational contents and then driving toward an effective learning.

This article describes the use of focus groups in supporting divergent and convergent thinking in the learning process for basic education. Focus groups take advantage of group dynamics and allow small groups of students to be guided by a qualified moderator (teacher) in order to achieve increasing levels of understanding and deepening of fundamental learnings in the subject under study.

A qualitative research has been conducted on a longitudinal immersion (two and a half year period) of participant observation in a full-time public Brazilian basic school. Focus groups have been used for sharing experiences and to elicit learnings from a variety of activities, including the use of digital games in math classes under the perspective of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device.

Focus groups proved to be a key component for applying the Design Thinking approach in the learning process. As collective assessments, these activities have been conducted in order to transfer the mathematical concepts learned (with meaning and significance during the act of playing) into abstract and formal notational record as included in the curriculum. They elicit the tacit knowledge acquired by the students from the games, making this knowledge explicit and conscious, and, in the specific case of this project, allowing to students a closer approximation with the symbolic language of mathematics.