Fostering Design Literacy, Empathy and Awareness in Codesign

Andree Woodcock, Tim Ball, Katarzyna Gut, Paul Magee, Deana McDonagh, Louise Moody, Felipe Moreira, Sinead Ouillon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding


Using low fidelity simulations, the authors have previously introduced elements to an undergraduate product design module, to improve empathic forethought among student designers, designing with and for elders. Student feedback suggested a willingness and enthusiasm to adopt more empathic approaches to design problems and an understanding of the responsibility that resides in their hands. They also suggested that training could be enriched by engaging with elders during concept development and prototyping. In codesign, citizens may be asked to inform, constrain and evaluate product development to meet ‘their’ needs or those of their peers. It is often these insights which provide a basis for innovation around which designers can instill value, desire, benefit and affect perceptions of stigmatizing issues. Using a real-world scenario, students followed empathic, experiential exercises before engaging with elders.

Mindful of the need for such interactions to be enjoyable, fruitful, reliable and valid for both students and participants, this study focused on the interaction between students and elders during concept development and final presentation. Six groups (32 students in total) were observed interacting with 12 elder citizens. Data was gathered from students’ reflections, observations of tutors, and focus groups with elder citizens. From this, we have developed guidelines to ensure that both citizens and students derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from these activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, E and PDE 2020
EditorsL. Buck, E. Bohemia, H. Grierson
PublisherThe Design Society
ISBN (Print)978-191225410-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - VIA Design, Herning, Denmark
Duration: 9 Sep 202011 Sep 2020


Conference22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
Abbreviated titleEPDE2020
Internet address


  • Empathy
  • Old age
  • experiential learning
  • codesign
  • Mobility

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