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Brickenomics 101: Lego graduates to university

Communications student Bianca Licina said holding up a Lego model for a photo.

Communications student Bianca Licina said using Lego Serious Play was 'a window into our minds'.

Plastic bricks used in child’s play are now one of the building blocks of a university education.

Bond University is using Lego to help spur creative thinking among students in some courses following the business world’s embrace of the popular toy.

Lego Serious Play (LSP) is a darling of Wall Street and Silicon Valley where employees solve problems by constructing small models, then describing what they built and why.

Users credit it with increasing creativity and communication and this is backed up by studies, while further research is underway to determine if Lego also reduces anxiety.

Teaching Fellow Sasha Goodwin used LSP to help final-year Communications students choose a capstone project to complete their studies.

“I think the older we get, the less we value creativity,” Ms Goodwin said.

“This is really about tapping into passions and creativity.

“With Lego, it is what you say it is. So a yellow brick could represent money.

“A lot of the process is about reflecting. ‘Why did you build that? Why did you choose that colour’?”

LSP has been used by Microsoft, Ernst & Young, Harvard Business School, Lexus and Visa. In Australia the Institute of Sport has brought in tubs of bricks to train coaches and Olympians.

Communications student Bianca Licina said she occasionally played with Lego as a child and thought it might be useful as an icebreaker in her university classes.

But after participating in a LSP session she realised her colleagues’ creations were `a window into our minds and revealed things about ourselves that we hadn’t noticed before’.

“I realised what my true passions and driving motivations were, which were important to understand when embarking on the semester project,” Ms Licina said.

“I definitely understand why large corporations use Lego Serious Play.”

Bond University Teaching and Learning Enhancement Coordinator Anne Trethewey said LSP was a springboard to conversations.

“When we talk about a model, we're talking about something external to ourselves,” Ms Trethewey said.

“It’s fascinating to watch how deep the conversations go from there.”

Ms Trethewey said a growing number of Bond academics were undergoing training in LSP to boost student engagement - already the best of any major university in Australia, according to the federal government’s 2022 Student Experience Survey.

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