Developing empathy towards older adults in design
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In design disciplines, an affective understanding of users’ everyday lives can increase designer sensitivity and awareness, leading to higher-quality design outcomes. Developing students’ empathic understanding within design education is required to accomplish this goal. This article discusses learning strategies that enhance students’ empathic horizons, and specifically analyzes an assignment conducted in an Interior Architecture and Environmental Design course, “The Grandparent Experience.” Here, exposure through observation and interviewing, and art-based methods are employed to develop students’ empathy towards older adults. We conducted a survey with students who completed the exercise and the course, exploring their perspectives on their learning. The results reveal that students had positive views on the assignment’s effectiveness regarding the learning outcome and learning process. Implications for empathic design education and educational gerontology are discussed.