Design Principles for Promoting Intergroup Empathy in Online Environments

Noa Shapira, Haggai Kupermintz, Yael Kali
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 12  •  2016  •  pp. 225-246
This study examined a professional development program designed to support Civics teachers in their efforts to promote empathy among Israeli Jewish students towards Israeli Arabs. The design rationale for the program is that teachers should experience empathic processes themselves before supporting their students in such an endeavor and that meaningful empathic processes can occur online if activities are properly designed. All phases of the program were designed to support teachers to participate as part of an online community of practice. Sixty Jewish teachers participated in two iterations of the design study. Refinements were made in the second iteration to provide teachers with explicit definitions of empathy and specific instructions for reflection. Findings indicate that these changes were reflected in higher degrees of empathic responses among teachers. Teachers also indicated that being a part of an online learning community contributed to the learning process they experienced during the program. We interpret this as a first step in enabling teachers to assist their students to develop a more empathetic approach toward the minority group and conclude with a discussion of recommended design principles for promoting such an approach.
empathy, minority group, teacher professional development, teachers as designers, online learning community
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