Fostering User-Empathy Skills of Engineering Students by Collaborative Teaching

Anne Wallisch, Juan Carlos Briede-Westermeyer, Marianela Luzardo-Briceno

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    This research analyses the impact factors on developing user-empathy, by presenting collaboration experiences between engineering students and elderly people, in particular, analysing the aspect of communication. This collaboration began, by aiming to assess the development and impact evaluation of a participative and multi-disciplinary co-creation model, set up to design new products for self-reliant elderly in the Biobió region in Chile. Within a two-year period, several cocreation workshops with different interaction formats were conducted. The workshops were extremely valuable, not only in terms of design solutions, but also the participating students soon developed a high degree of empathy for the participating elderly, as representatives of a user group that was initially foreign to them. Empathy for their target users helped the students, not only with regard to determining requirements, but above all, with the design of an interaction that allowed suitably integrating elderly people into the design process. Examining these interactions revealed key elements of the learning process as well as the generic and specific success in teaching competences, an aspect that is directly sought by the industry. Based on these results, implications are derived for teaching user-empathy to engineering students as well as for curricula design.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-243
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 Tempus Publications. All rights reserved.


    • Co-creation
    • Collaborative learning
    • Design engineering
    • Engineering education
    • Learning outcomes
    • Project-based learning
    • Soft skills


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