Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Community Engagement Division
Empathy is an important ability for engineers, it allows us to connect with the people we impact as we seek to solve problems, design and innovate. This ability is commonly and casually defined as the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes. Several researchers within and outside of the engineering education community have sought to define and suggest practical ways to promote empathy as a valuable social competency for engineering practice. Many scholars assert that service learning and other community engagement pedagogies are a fertile ground for helping students further develop their empathic abilities.
This qualitative study aims at studying an engineering course with an integrated service component, and investigating the role empathy plays in the students’ experiences. Further, supportive features of these experiences will be described. Participants are first-year engineering students in a service learning course at a large land grant institution. This course is required for students who are part of a living learning community for first-year students. Participants are interested in pursuing various engineering disciplines however, they had not declared one during the course.
We utilize a phenomenology study and focus on students’ experiences within the course. Data is collected via semi-structured interviews conducted through online video conferencing. During interviews, several participants mentioned how the nature of their relationships with people they interfaced with on their projects changed, which may suggest that some students correlate pieces of their service experiences in the course with aspects of empathy. The findings from the study could provide some insight on empathy development and the influence of including a service component in a first-year engineering course.
Yeaman, A., & Bairaktarova, D., & Reid, K. (2020, June), A Qualitative Study of Empathy in the Experiences of Students in a First-Year Engineering Service Learning Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34040
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