Experiential Education & Narrative Writing: Gateway To User Empathy
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The inclusion of experimental narrative writing opportunities throughout an educational program interjects critical thinking and emphasizes the importance of student experiences. Scenarios and ...
The inclusion of experimental narrative writing opportunities throughout an educational program interjects critical thinking and emphasizes the importance of student experiences. Scenarios and simulation based activities were created to help students understand the role of feelings in shaping the human experience in relation to their physical environment. Hands-on activities that create tangible associations with the disabled (or diverse user groups) is the most valuable technique for developing and encouraging positive action. They allow students to filter out personal biases and guide tactical decision making. Research indicates that autobiographical accounts of people create empathy and help students understand the world in different ways rather than relying on preconceived ideas; therefore, reflective narrative writing creates opportunities for students to identify with personas of the populations they research.
The simulation and writing activities were implemented within a junior level interior design course relating to understanding building codes for various user groups in society. Pretests were administered to students related to understanding, empathy, and critical thinking in design as it relates to different user groups. Narrative assignments were integrated and user profiles were created for simulation activities based on the information gathered from pretests. Critical writing rubrics were developed and classroom teaching tools were researched and purchased for simulation activities. Students performed simulation activities, writing assignments, class discussions, and reflections. Post tests were administered and evaluated to assess the success of narrative focused activities. The success of student development tracked through the course and was compared to previous year’s final grades and course evaluations.
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