To read this content please select one of the options below:

Designing for others: the roles of narrative and empathy in supporting girls’ engineering engagement

Kylie Peppler (Department of Informatics and Education, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)
Anna Keune (Department of Educational Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany)
Maggie Dahn (Department of Informatics and Education, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA)
Dorothy Bennett (Department of Research, Exhibits and Programs, New York Hall of Science, Flushing, New York, USA)
Susan M. Letourneau (Department of Research, Exhibits and Programs, New York Hall of Science, Flushing, New York, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 20 December 2021

Issue publication date: 10 March 2022

209

Abstract

Purpose

Science museums provide a context for developing and testing engineering activities that support visitors in creating personally meaningful objects. This study aims to propose that narrative design elements in such engineering activities can foster empathy to support engineering engagement among girls ages 7–14.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking a constructionist approach to engineering design, the authors present results from an observational study (n = 202 girls) of engineering activities across three museums that were designed to foster girls’ engineering engagement by integrating narrative elements aimed to foster empathy in activities. Using quantitative counts from observation protocols, the authors conducted statistical analyses to explore relationships between narrative, engineering and empathy.

Findings

Linear regression demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between empathy and increased numbers of engineering practices within museum activities. Additionally, this led us to explore the impacts the potential narrative design elements may have on designing for empathy – multiple linear regressions found both narrative and empathy to be independently associated with engineering practices. Overall, the authors found that using narrative to design activities to elicit empathy resulted in girls demonstrating more engineering practices.

Originality/value

The authors offer design ideas to foster aspects of empathy, including user-centered design, perspective-taking, familiarity and desire to help.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was a collaborative effort that brought together a team of researchers, educators, and activity developers from four informal learning institutions: The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), The Tech Interactive, The Scott Family Amazeum, and The Creativity Labs at University of California, Irvine.

The authors would also like to thank Kate Kirby and Megan Smith from the UC-Irvine Center for Statistical Consulting for their consultation on statistical analysis.

Funding: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1712803. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Citation

Peppler, K., Keune, A., Dahn, M., Bennett, D. and Letourneau, S.M. (2022), "Designing for others: the roles of narrative and empathy in supporting girls’ engineering engagement", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 123 No. 3/4, pp. 129-153. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-07-2021-0061

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles