Empathy Expression and Development in I.D. Education

Tellez, F. A. (2014). Empathy Expression and Development in Industrial Design Education. In P. Desmet, A. Burbano, G. Ludden, & J. Maya (Eds.), 9th International Conference on Design & Emotion - The Colors of Care (pp. 256–259). Bogota: Universidad de los Andes.


Empathy has been recognized as a fundamental ability to generate social cohesion, to facilitate conflict resolution, to foster collaboration, and to inhibit aggression. In the Design field, this abil- ity is considered essential for designers to acquire a deep understanding of the users in order to develop products, services, and experiences that meet their needs. As a consequence, this research proposal aims to understand how empathy is expressed and developed by students in the context of an industrial design studio, through the understanding of its methodological, pedagogical and curricular conditions. The lack of literature exploring this phenomenon calls for a theory-building methodology such as grounded theory. In order to triangulate what stu- dents say, do, and make, this study proposes the use of semi-structured interviews applied to students and faculty members, participant observation of the design studio, and collection of students’ portfolios (i.e. artifacts created by the students in the studio). The analysis of these data will provide evidence of students’ expressions of empathy for the user, as well as evidence of the factors that might foster the development of this ability in an industrial design studio.

Keywords: Empathy, Empathy Decline, Human-Centered Design, Design Studio, Design Education, Grounded Theory, Qualitative Research

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