Empathetic Design: A Sustainable Approach to School Change

Educational leaders have the capacity to effect change within the system. Principals and others gained a deeper understanding of the student and teacher school experience from shadowing a student for a day. Themes for change included strengthening community, structural changes in the school day, supporting connectivity, and finding new opportunities. This presentation provides the results of a qualitative content analysis framed in empathetic design thinking and based on personal experiences, observations, and reflections influencing future actions.

Association for Educational Communications and Technology
Hartman, R. J., Johnston, E., & Hill, M.
Presentation Date: 
Friday, November 10, 2017
Event or Conference: 
Leading Learning for Change
Presentation Type: 
Paper Presentation
Boyer's Domain: 
Presentation Location: 
225 E Coastline Dr,
Jacksonville, FL
United States
A descriptive case study approach employing a content analysis of the blogs of 36 school leaders who took part in the 2016-2017 Shadow a Student Challenge project and follow up interviews of five of the school leaders were used to explore and describe how an empathetic design approach provided a greater vantage point for school leaders to gain a deeper insight into the school experience by viewing school through the eyes of students. School leaders play a key role in establishing the culture, climate, and educational outcomes within their school environments. An empathetic design approach to school reform provides a stronger point for initiating change than an atmosphere focused on evaluation and accountability. Taking a school-based approach, encouraging school leaders to immerse themselves in the school experience, provides an opportunity for school leaders to gain empathy and insights foundational in generating meaningful and innovative change leading to sustainable education. Three major themes emerged from the findings: 1) pace and structure of the school day, 2) student learning experience, and 3) reflective and innovative insights