Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Design in Engineering Education
Engineers may design products that they will never use and/or for target user populations they will not belong to. This is particularly important in the bio-tech field where the engineering designers are often not users of the product themselves (e.g. walking cane or wheelchairs). To ensure this lack of familiarity between designer and product/user does not prevent the realization of a successful product, empathy is required. This paper details the results of an assignment developed specifically to address empathy in a low familiarity design scenario. The goal of the assignment is to allow students to work on a design project where they lack empathy, recognize the role of empathy in design, and ultimately improve their empathy. A design project is given to students enrolled in a Design Methodologies course – which serves as a Capstone Design Precursor – at a small private, engineering focused university. Student empathy was collected through a survey that combined three existing empathy instruments. Student empathy was calculated before and after the assignment. Further, students were performed stimulated reflection to discuss the challenges observed with their design. The results of the study suggested that while students recognized the importance of empathy, the assignment itself did not improve their empathy scores. The students did not see a statistically significant change in their empathy scores before and after the assigned based on the survey instrument. However, their reflection indicated their realized the role empathy plays in their decision making throughout the design process. This results of the study suggest while assignments can be used to recognize empathy, their use in improving empathy is limited.
Shah, D., & Yang, X., & Morkos, B. (2020, June), Can Empathy Be Taught? The Results of an Assignment Targeted at Improving Empathy in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34255
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