New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Engineers are increasingly being called upon to infuse a deeply considered, empathic regard for a broad range of stakeholders into their work. This development can be attributed to a growing recognition of the socially-situated nature of engineering practice and the shared and interdisciplinary nature of today’s grand challenges. In order to prepare engineers to more effectively address these challenges, we contend that empathic ways of interacting with others need to be explicitly fostered in undergraduate engineering programs. Pedagogical approaches to teach empathy to engineering students, however, are limited. In this paper, we describe the development and pilot implementation of a set of four empathy modules that we integrated into a sophomore mechanical engineering course (n=110) at a large state university. We used a theoretically-grounded, context-specific model for empathy in engineering, which conceptualizes empathy as a teachable and learnable skill, a critically reflected-upon practice orientation, and a professional way of being, as the basis for developing the modules. Drawing on detailed observation notes and critical reflections, we provide an account of how the modules were received by the students and the lessons we learned with the view to further refining the modules for future iterations. In parallel, we discuss early insights concerning the potential impact of integrating explicit instruction in empathy into undergraduate education on the professional formation of engineers.
Walther, J., & Miller, S. E., & Sochacka, N. W., & Brewer, M. A. (2016, June), Fostering Empathy in an Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26944
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