However, despite the importance of this capacity, current educators and education practices do a poor job of encouraging the development of empathy in college students. This essay acknowledges and explores that gap in the STEM science, technology, engineering and math disciplines particularly.
Nonetheless, students often evidence a decline in their sense of social responsibility with decreases in their volunteering and community engagement activities as their college years unfold Bielefeldt and Canney, Furthermore, while STEM degrees have become incrementally more common for both men and women during the last decade U. News, , when assessing levels of empathy among college students as measured by the four subscales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index—perspective taking, fantasy, empathic distress and empathic concern—students pursuing degrees in these fields demonstrate lower levels of empathy than their peers completing majors in other disciplines such as health care, social sciences or the humanities Rasoal, Danielsson, and Jungert, In any case and paradoxically, engineering majors are asked to empathize more and more in their daily professional activities, in both technical and social tasks National Academy of Engineering, Engineers routinely engage with multiple stakeholders, design for future users, develop plans for sustainable projects, review the work of colleagues, report technical and administrative tasks to their superiors and inform the general population of their actions and findings, among other tasks.
To tackle these challenges, engineers require social capacities beyond their technical expertise, including empathy, communication skills and comfort with interdisciplinary teamwork Walther, Miller and Sochacka, However, while recent years have seen publication of a range of research articles and books addressing empathy, there is still little research concerning the connections between engineering, and education to and for empathy Strobel, Hess, Pan, and Wachter Morris, The need to explore this relationship has nonetheless been highlighted by a number of studies.
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While the authors of this analysis described this tension, they also emphasized that their respondents shared the view that empathy was essential for engineering education and practice. Faculty in Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands also have highlighted empathy as a desired characteristic for working in the design industry and in public administration Segalas, Ferrer-Balas and Mulder, Empathy can help individuals understand others more deeply, to become more aware of the broader impacts of their statements and actions, build more trusting relationships, improve teamwork and, more generally, encourage more robust and successful communication and interaction Hess, Strobel and Pan, Efforts to integrate empathy purposefully into pedagogies for STEM majors continue to grow Rasoal et al.
These findings have prompted a growing shift in current STEM field pedagogical practices away from more pedantic teaching methods to more student-centered and experiential learning strategies. Faculty members educating STEM majors are increasingly adopting the view that helping students develop empathetic imagination is vitally important to their personal and professional development. However, despite the benefits of empathy and of student-centered pedagogical approaches that encourage it, research in this area remains largely undeveloped Walther et al.
Past analyses have found that engineering students evidence lower levels of empathy than other college students Rasoal et al. Meanwhile, the National Research Council has, for more than a decade, stressed the need for more holistic education for STEM majors, including engineers.
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Although, as noted above, voluntary community engagement among engineering students in college has declined in recent years, past analyses have found that engaging with residents concerning project design and implementation can lead to improved ability to empathize with others Bielefeldt and Canney, Bielefeldt, A. Hess, J. Joint Board of Moderators. Philosophy of Engineering and Technology Free Preview.
Engineering Education for Social Justice : Critical Explorations and Opportunities
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About this book Hoping to help transform engineering into a more socially just field of practice, this book offers various perspectives and strategies while highlighting key concepts and themes that help readers understand the complex relationship between engineering education and social justice. Show all. Pages Santiago, Marisol Mercado.
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