Keeping struggling students from illiteracy using design thinking


More than 10% of adults in the Netherlands never learn basic reading skills. Previous efforts to improve literacy of the lowest performing students have shown limited success. It has become clear that further engineering of existing reading methods will not result in large gains for these at-risk students. In this project, we will use the Design Thinking process to involve children, teachers, and parents in the generation of a portfolio of divergent ideas for educational tools, techniques, and environments to improve learning outcomes for at-risk students. This portfolio will form the basis of a larger grant application.

Design Thinking is an iterative process that follows a systematic progression through stages of empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing to encourage rapid generation and evolution of ideas. An essential part of the design thinking process is that it involves all stakeholders, including students, teachers, and parents. In contrast to traditional approaches to developing educational solutions, this approach will place a great deal of emphasis on their personal experiences to identify the biggest hurdles and opportunities for improving reading. We will also work with teachers and daily assessment data to identify early predictors of struggling children. The goal of this project is to generate a divergent set of ideas for next-generation educational tools and behavioral approaches, taking full advantage of data from digital learning platforms


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. A.T. Hendrickson

Affiliated with

Tilburg University


13/04/2018 to 31/01/2019