There are a number of individuals and labs that study design thinking as part of their overall research agenda. Many of these researchers have taught at the d.school or participated in some way. Their work spans design techniques, like brainstorming, to fundamental reordering of neural networks in the brain. Below is a list of these researchers and links to their work.
REDLab is a group within the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. They research design thinking in K-12, undergraduate, and graduate settings.
This program is a collaboration between Stanford and the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam Germany. It began in 2008 with the mission to better understand how design thinking is applied in various fields. Each year a book is published featuring overviews from each project.
The projects cover topics including...
How design thinking is taught at a university level
The effects learning and practicing design thinking have on the structure of one's brain
Measuring and Assessing the Impact of design thinking
CDR studies design innovation. Housed in the Stanford University School of
Engineering, this community led by Larry Leifer has contributed to the field of design for over 20
Their work includes an investigation of the role design thinking has in engineering
Their article, Innovation as a Learning Process, compares learning design thinking to Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Model. It argues that because a design process encompanses a range of cognitive behaviors, it is necessary to include people with disparate learning styles on the same design team.
Dr. Blikstein researches STEM education within the contexts of digital fabrication and the maker movement. His team develops learning experiences where underserved student populations can effectively express thoughts, ideas, and problem solutions using cutting edge technology. HIs work is more about teaching students a process rather than just exposing them to technology.
Dr. Gerber is a Professor of Design and Northwestern University and founded Design for America.
Dr. Hinds is a professor of at the Stanford University School of Engineering. One of her lines of research focuses on how cultural context affects design teams.
Dr. Sheppard is an expert in fracture mechanics and finite element analysis. Beyond that, she does award winning research on engineering education. Much of her work focuses on how students decide to study engineering.
Dr. Sutton is a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford University School of Engineering and one of the founding d.school faculty. He has studied a number of innovative organization and is the author of several best selling books.
Check out the work he has done understanding the effects of brainstorming in a design team