Educating for empathy in software engineering course

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The ability to empathize with end-users is an engineering skill that is as necessary as technical expertise and social competency. In particular, empathy is required when embracing the otherness of a group of people and defining their requirements. Empathy is the first step in the design thinking method, which has garnered interest among software development organisa-tions nowadays for leveraging the design and innovation processes and for better realizing the required end-user experience. The design thinking approach places the customer needs up-front, and emphasizes building empathy with users, observing their behavior, and drawing conclusions about what people want and need. This paper presents preliminary findings of a collaboration between design students and engineering students at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art. The findings show how engineering students, when coping with a serious, human (as opposed to organizational) wicked problem presented to them, practiced empathy and used emotional language when defining requirements for their solutions. The paper posits that the multidisciplinary learning experience of engineering and design students, gained while practicing the design thinking method, can foster empathy and other skills needed in modern digital culture, which exhibits the confluence of technology, knowledge, and culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event24th Joint International Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality Workshops, Doctoral Symposium, REFSQ-JP 2018 - Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 19 Mar 2018 → …

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright (c) by the paper's authors.


  • Creativity
  • Design thinking
  • Emotions
  • Inclusive requirements engineering
  • Multidisciplinary learning
  • Software engineering
  • Wicked problem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science


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