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Empathy and Caring as Conceptualized Inside and Outside of Engineering: Extensive Literature Review and Faculty Focus Group Analyses

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Creative and Cross-disciplinary Methods Part II

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

34

Page Numbers

25.520.1 - 25.520.34

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21278

Download Count

44

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Paper Authors

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Justin L Hess Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1210-9535

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Justin L. Hess is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He earned his B.S. from Purdue University in the School of Civil Engineering with an environmental emphasis and philosophy minor during May of 2011. His research interests involve establishing a better understanding of the role of empathy/care within engineering, considering how alternative worldviews, such as indigenous and/or non-Western, might influence today's engineering disciplines, and studying the relation of resistance to change to environmental awareness. He is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Chi Epsilon (XE), Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE), and Engineering Education Graduate Student Association (ENEGSA).

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Jessica Erin Sprowl

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Jessica Sprowl is currently a graduate student at Purdue University, pursuing a master’s degree in School Counseling. She earned her B.S. in mathematics teaching from Purdue University, Fort Wayne, in 2009. She worked as a high school math teacher for two years before returning to Purdue to continue her education. She is actively involved in Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society in the field of school counseling. She is also the secretary of Purdue’s Counseling and Development Group. She currently works as a graduate research assistant for Purdue University’s Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE), where her main research interest involves exploring the constructs of empathy and care in the field of engineering. She is also volunteering on research team that is investigating the personal experiences of marginalized youth who have transitioned into an alternative high school.

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Rui Pan Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Melissa Dyehouse Purdue University

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Melissa Dyehouse is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies and conducts research at the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE). She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Purdue University with a focus on educational research methodology and assessment. Her research at INSPIRE involves engineering as a “caring” discipline in the context of broader social and environmental concerns. This research involves creating awareness of engineering as a discipline that has broad and meaningful impacts on society and the environment, studying the effects of students’ perceptions of engineers and engineering, and developing programmatic components to broaden students’ understanding of engineering.

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Carrie A. Wachter Morris Purdue University

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Johannes Strobel Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Johannes Strobel is Director of INSPIRE, Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning, and Assistant Professor of engineering education and learning design and technology at Purdue University. NSF and several private foundations fund his research. His research and teaching focuses on policy of P-12 engineering, how to support teachers and students' academic achievements through engineering learning, and the measurement and support of change of "habits of mind," particularly in regards to sustainability and the use of cyber-infrastructure to sensitively and resourcefully provide access to and support learning of complexity.

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Abstract

Empathy and Caring as Conceptualized In Engineering: Faculty Focus Group AnalysesThe National Academy of Engineering promotes habits of mind including systems thinking,creativity, optimism, collaboration, communication and attention to ethical considerations.Empathy and care are two attributes that underlie engineering habits of mind. This project stemsfrom a comparative literature review on how empathy/care are conceptualized, integrated intostandards, and taught in engineering as well as disciplines considered empathetic and caring suchas nursing, counseling, etc.The purpose of this study was to investigate how faculty both inside and outside of engineeringconceptualize empathy and care. The research objectives include (1) defining empathy and carewithin engineering, (2) defining empathy and care in disciplines which are traditionallyperceived as caring/empathetic and (3) comparing the role of empathy and care withinengineering to disciplines outside.This study used a qualitative approach. Three engineering and three non-engineering focus groupsessions were conducted with a total of seven engineering and nine non-engineering participants.Interviews were audio recorded and then transcribed. Faculty focus group interview sessionswere semi-structured guided by the following queries: (1) What does empathy mean? (2) Whatdoes caring mean? (3) How much importance is placed on care/empathy in your field, research,profession, or teaching? (4) Do care and empathy have value in your curriculum? How are theyintegrated? (5) How empathetic/caring is engineering? How should it be? An inductive codingprocess was used to analyze participant responses.Engineering participants tended to believe that empathy is related to feeling, is emotive, and doesnot require action. Non-engineering participants suggested that a form of action, however, isnecessary. Engineering participants thought care should require action. Some non-engineers, onthe other hand, tended to consider care more personal. While there was not general consensus onany of these definitions, participants did seem to agree that the terms were related and inconjunction would involve both emotive and action-oriented components.Participants were asked to rank engineering as being empathetic/caring on a scale of 1-10. Therewas wide variability in how caring/empathetic participants thought engineering to be. This isshown in the figure on the following page, which includes an average score and standarddeviation of participant responses. Our next step is to further explore the focus group responsesto better understand the guiding questions. Ideally, by analyzing the responses we will also betterunderstand questions such as, “How might teaching attributes such as care and empathy inengineering education lead to more socially responsible and ethical engineers?” and “How wouldan engineering educator teach empathy/care within an engineering classroom? Engineering vs. Non-Engineering Rankings How empathetic/caring is engineering on a scale of 1-10?10 Engineering 8 7 Participants Average=5.5 6 STDEV=2.4 4 Non-Engineering 9 Participants Average=2.9 2 STDEV=3.1 0

Hess, J. L., & Sprowl, J. E., & Pan, R., & Dyehouse, M., & Wachter Morris, C. A., & Strobel, J. (2012, June), Empathy and Caring as Conceptualized Inside and Outside of Engineering: Extensive Literature Review and Faculty Focus Group Analyses Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21278

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015