Empathetic Design: A Sustainable Approach to School Change


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.


This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Hartman, R., Johnston, E., & Hill, M.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education
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