The purpose of this study was to understand how instructional designers define empathy in the context of instructional design technology and how empathy was manifest in their daily work. Through a series of in-depth interviews with six designers, three definitions of empathy emerged including caring for the learner, referencing personal experience in service of the learner, and taking on somebody else's viewpoint. Additionally, analysis of empathy in participants' daily work resulted in six themes: personal experience, metacognition or self-awareness, project management constraints, multiple stakeholders, practical processes and traditional learner analysis, and navigating learner goals and motivation. Several complexities regarding empathy and learner analysis were revealed, including those pertaining to institutional constraints, managing empathetic relationships with various stakeholders beyond learners, the amount of learner analysis necessary for a good design, the degree to which interaction between designer and learner is necessary, and whether increased content knowledge helps designers effectively empathize with learners. In addition to these complexities of practice, the gap in research regarding learner analysis and empathy in instructional design were recommended as important topics for further research.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Williams, Gregory Spencer, "Empathy and the Instructional Designer" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 5808.
empathy, learner analysis, user experience, design practice