Title: Graduate instructional design students using empathy as a means to an end

Authors: John Baaki; Monica W. Tracey; Elizabeth Bailey; Smruti Shah

Addresses: Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, Old Dominion University, 4301, Hampton Blvd, Suite 4125, Norfolk, VA 23539, USA ' College of Education, Wayne State University, 5425 Gullen Mall, Detroit, MI 48201, USA ' College of Education, Wayne State University, 5425 Gullen Mall, Detroit, MI 48201, USA ' Center for Learning and Teaching, Old Dominion University, 130 Gornto Hall, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA

Abstract: Empathy is the ability to identify with other people's thoughts and feelings. Measuring empathy is difficult and questions have surfaced regarding if empathy is the most appropriate way to design. As instructional design instructors and practitioners, we view empathy as a means to an end. We taught an empathic design approach to 34 graduate instructional design students where students, working in teams, participated in a design project for a nonprofit organisation. This qualitative study investigated how graduate students demonstrated empathy for adult learners. We witnessed design teams demonstrate empathy for adult learners as documented instances of empathy were included in the final design project. Implications of empathy for action in design, implications for designer preparation, and implications for design research are discussed.

Keywords: empathic design; design education; design processes; designer preparation; reflective practice; design research.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2021.124217

Journal of Design Research, 2021 Vol.19 No.4/5/6, pp.290 - 307

Accepted: 21 Oct 2021
Published online: 18 Jul 2022 *

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