Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Design in Engineering Education
In order to effectively meet the needs of users and avoid errors, engineers need to understand their clients, users and stakeholders. An important part of this process is empathy. By empathizing with their users, engineers design innovative solutions that focus on their needs, discover new product applications, avoid potential future mistakes and save money and resources. The development and skill of empathizing with others, has become a necessity for successful future engineers. With this necessity comes the need to design learning experiences that encourage engineering students’ understanding of their users and stakeholders. Studies have shown an “authentic” experience involving real-world contexts reflecting the work of professionals helps to develop and foster empathy. At a large Midwestern university, a service-learning design program emulates industry practices by having multi-disciplinary teams of students partner with community organizations and work with them to address their needs and solve real-world problems. Therefore, this program provides authentic experiences in which students can potentially develop empathy. In previous research on the program’s design process, findings relating how students perceive the human aspect of engineering design and how they empathize correlated with their relationship with their team’s community partner. This study takes the research further to understand what factors specifically contribute to the manifestation of empathy in students working on service-learning design projects with community partners. This exploratory study will report on analyzed and coded weekly reflections of different teams of students to understand how empathy is manifested based on the differences in proximity and relationship with their team’s community partner. This analysis is based on the Jean Decety and Yoshiya Moriguchi model of empathy that categorizes empathy into four components: affective sharing, self-awareness, mental flexibility, and emotion regulation. Findings show clear benefits from regular interaction with the partners and differences between students regardless whether or not students meet with community partner in person. This is important because by understanding how relationships with community partners help manifest empathy in students, we, as instructors, can better guide them in their service-learning experiences to optimize their empathy development and therefore, develop effective engineering designers.
Abu-Mulaweh, N., & Oakes, W. C., & Leidig, P. A. (2020, June), Empathy in a Service-Learning Design Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34524
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