Action Research Outline

“Change is for every happening and our students deserve Educators to help mold them into beautiful little humans.” Wright, K. (2020)

I. What is the topic of your action research?

How will my organization help to cultivate Empathy in our students when using digital platforms and the effect it will have on their learning?

II. What is the purpose of your study?

The sole purpose of my study is to recreate what digital citizenship lessons look like when Empathy is a part of the experiences and allowing the students to be a part of the design process. Digital citizenship programs are consistently redesigned with the same topics, yet, we now see the impact of Blended Learning and its effect on the meaning of lessons. Every one of their nine elements addresses different perspectives on safety, security, respect, civility, privacy, and effective, productive, and creative use of digital technologies. Digital Etiquette, for example, not only covers inappropriate use but also encompasses effective ways to write an email (is “reply all” always necessary?), respect content shared in confidence by others and addressing authority figures in different online formats (Sklar, Alissa p.40)

Rapid advances in technology have resulted in the need for schools to cultivate a variety of skills to ensure students are able to excel in a changing world. The Internet has revolutionized the way that material is accessed, leading researchers to claim digital literacy as an essential 21st-century competency (Voogt et al., 2013).

Dialogue-oriented activities have been shown to be pedagogically effective for developing general reasoning skills (Wegerif, Mercer & Dawes, 1999), and reasoning skills related to online inquiry in particular (Knight and Mercer, 2015). However, a productive dialogue is not guaranteed when students work collaboratively (Häkkinen and Mäkitalo-Siegl, 2007). Students often require support and scaffolding to deliberate and explore ideas effectively (Mercer et al., 2004).

Dialogue serves several purposes during educational tasks: exchanging information and strategies, critiquing and building on ideas, enhancing explicit awareness of metacognitive strategies, and becoming aware that others have different experiences and views (Hicks, 1996; Mercer, 2013).

The educational activity provided an environment where the target language could be used several times naturally. This approach was shown to aid an individual’s ability to use the target vocabulary unaided at a later date, implying a better understanding of key concepts behind the terms (Moore and Schleppegrell, 2014).

Will my target audience understand the importance of having Empathy and understanding the behaviors they use will affect digital citizenship? Research shows that Empathy can be foster when students have immersed themselves in certain practices. Developed to counter the more typical, opaquely worded policies in most schools, Trafalgar asked their students to rewrite it in their own words (as in, “Always think about the effects your words might have before you post. Imagine the person’s face when they read it” (Trafalgar, 2017). The resulting draft was circulated for feedback from teachers, school staff, and parents; each incoming class of secondary one students is invited to edit and offer feedback. It’s a living document, 41 created by students, for students, which encourages both critical thinking in its development and buy-in from students who become de facto ambassadors among their peers for responsible behavior online. Any arrangement that draws kids into the conversation about best practices is likely to be more effective if it is simultaneously regarded as an opportunity for learning and communication (Sklar, Alissa p.40-41).

The ultimate plan is to create a significant learning environment where students study what Empathy looks like and then have them design videos and discussion platforms to cultivate Empathy in a digital environment. The students will eventually have a forum to peer coach, and then hold digital platforms to be active in assuring that the embracing of Empathy is understood.

We can significantly expand upon the concept of digital citizenship and teach it to our students. The action we are hoping to foster should become natural.

The first particular point to be considered when design an educational program is to be sure about the need for a new program or the need for a revision of the current program. In order to specify this, as Demirel (2015) suggests, the current program should be over viewed in detail so as to determine how much it responds to the needs of the individuals and the community.

III. What is your fundamental research question?

Can students truly cultivate Empathy within their online usage? (Basically). Will they have enough project-based learning experiences to carry out a change to regulate their moral responsibility in a digital environment?

Empathy is about people and a deep understanding of their expectations and needs. The focus of Empathy is to develop the consideration of other people’s points of view. By Empathy and going underneath the surface, sometimes, the actual needs are beyond the basic request. Thus, Empathy is crucial to find and realize what is really going on. Through insights and observations, we can interpret what they say and do what they actually think and feel (Desai & Nemade, 2016). Therefore, it is important to identify the differences in perspectives to focus only on relevant information. Being empathetic to the affected people require thorough observation and analysis to define the actual problems. 15 Empathy is the core characteristic of design thinking to explore human-driven innovation (Efeoglu et al., 2013). Design thinking is about asking the correct questions and elaborate interpretation and assumptions. Using contextual inquiry and deep understanding, design thinkers learn how to observe, listen, and develop empathetic insights that lead to human-centered ways of solving problems (Carroll, 2015). Design thinking is a human-centered innovation process that provides a robust basis for divergent problem-solving. The process which has energized business and entrepreneurship is being applied to primary and secondary school level for consideration. Because of its key emphasis on people needs is through Empathy, design thinking focuses on the curriculum and assessment, mainly to solve real-world problems. Students engage in hands-on projects that focus on building Empathy, suggesting ideation, and encouraging active problem solving (Lor, 2017). Students need to know how to be empathetic towards others, understand problems, and generate creative solutions. They also need to engage people in the empathy stage of the design thinking process. They look, listen, and communicate with people about what they are doing, ask questions, and reflect on what they see. The understanding and observation in design thinking help students develop a sense of Empathy and feel their anxiety (Carroll et al., 2010).Belief that one has to capture the heart for the brain to follow. It is significant, especially when working to improve middle school age students and their already emotional selves.

When we allow students to help design their learning experience, they cultivate within themselves, Empathy?

Project-based learning needs the students to establish the problem from the start, while problem-based learning needs the students to follow accepted principles to solve the clearly defined problem (Spencer, 2018). Integrating Empathy in project-based learning is where students perform observation and interview sessions to the target user to gain a deep understanding of the project.  

It is the roots of constructivism, which can be found in the Dewey theory of experiential learning (Dewey, 1986). Dewey proposes that learning indeed occurs when education incorporates and utilizes with experiences (Miettinen, 2000). Project-based learning is a sort of inquiry-based learning and agreed by the idea that knowledge is formed by the learner himself and continuously grown based on previous experiences (Hutchison, 2016).

The practice of having Empathy is recognized in many Title I schools as a key to active learning. Teaching students to understand someone else and showing concern by the actions they display is a powerful message. In accordance with the vision of the Malaysian Minister of Education, he outlined three core values to be implemented and nurturing the culture of happiness, love, and mutual respect in schools to create fun and positive learning environment (Tharanya Arumugam, 2018). It coincides with the objectives of Empathy, where students need to embrace differences and reject hatred or prejudice among each other. Empathy skill can be developed and cultivated by discussing issues of social justice and demonstrate their concern and more in-depth understanding of some of the more marginalized members in their own society (Jamieson, 2015). Cultivating Empathy among students has been connected to some desired outcomes, such as positive peer relationships and better communication and collaboration skills. It is vital for the teacher to express Empathy and how it has the power to influence a variety of contexts and interactions.Thus, nurturing the well-being of students and promotes a positive, empathic culture are able to make classrooms and schools as a safe place for children. Using Empathy as part of students’ social skills, they will learn to understand each other, as well as helps them to build a connection based on positive relationships of trust. (Owen, 2015).So is it safe to say that it is essential to teach students to be more conscious of others’ experiences before we give a negative response?

Empathy able to cultivate patient and tolerance among students and may even decrease the number of bullying cases in schools. When we put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we become more sensitive to what that person is really experiencing and would less likely to tease or bully them (Fisher, 2016).

The program also successfully cultivating positive connections among peers instead of bullies or aggressive actions towards others (Gordon & Green, 2008). Students with higher levels of Empathy are proved to be more productive in cooperative learning and work environments. (Borba, 2016; Lee et al., 2018).

To develop Empathy with users, students need to be able to engage, listen, and understand the views of other people, which means involving actual people in their projects. Empathy will deepen students’ understanding of people with different background, language, race, and cultures from their own. By acquiring insights into user’s emotions, expectations, and fears, students would be able to provide critical issues and inspiration to create more focused and functional outcomes”. (McDonagh & Thomas, 2010).

IV. What is your research design? Qualitative, quantitative, both (mixed-methods) Why?

My research question is a mixed method. The type of innovation plan I have designed calls for several styles of questioning. To truly get the desired results, my questions will have to be fluid, meaning changing consistently. I have to understand that getting potential value out of my research. I cannot expect only positive results. Understanding that failure and readjustment will happen in my research. My research does favor more of a digging deep into the entire approach. I was reading from the book titled Action Research Improving Schools and Empowering Education 5th edition. Qualitative research questions tend to be open-ended, practitioner-researchers sometimes have difficulty identifying ahead of time the exact method they will use (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). We also read that when the study has is continued, and the questions can become more focused. So, I feel my research is both methods, Qualitative Research, and Quantitative Research. The real benefit lies in the fact that the consideration of both types of data provides a better understanding of the research problem than either type of data alone (Creswell, 2005). Triangulation Mixed Methods Design allows for equal emphasis. This method will enable me to combine the strengths of both data collection. This appropriate design is situations where the practitioner-researcher values both types of data equally and treats them as such, so that the two can be “merged,” and that the results of all analyses are used simultaneously to understand the research problem (Creswell, 2005).

V. What is the most appropriate type of data to collect?

Data collection is the key to understanding why the results happen. You must establish a need. Needs analysis is a crucial stage in developing programs to determine any shortages (Long, 2005). There are various definitions of “needs analysis” in literature. For Berwick (1989) and Şahin (2006), needs are the gap between the current situation and future expectations. Pratt (1980) and Stufflebeam, McCormick, Brinkerhoff, and Nelson (1985) define “needs analysis” as a set of procedures specifying and evaluating needs and determining the most important ones among them. Specifying needs help to collect information necessary for learning experiences and to determine the level of program targets in meeting actual needs. In this respect, Demirel (2015) emphasizes the importance of specifying individual, social, and subject-related needs before design educational programs.

Different teaching programs are used in technology and design courses across the world. Many countries (England, Finland, Australia, Greece, Germany, Spain, South Korea, and Hong Kong, USA) across the globe now require that educators teaching computing, coding, integrating with other courses from the earliest year’s students enter school (Rich, Browning, Perkins, et al. 2018; Toikkanen & Leinonen 2017). Akbaş (2003), Karaağaçlı and Mahiroğlu (2005) stated in their studies that technology education programs, designed to meet the needs of the communities and individuals, aim to develop learners’ scientific thinking skills, and for this reason technology programs should develop with constructivism. A quantitative questionnaire will be essential to build a knowledge base. Expectation will be established when the research understand where the students are, emotionally.

The findings in Kocabatmaz’s study (2011) using information technologies in class, technical drawings, students’ will in making designs as they wish, and using technological tools are similar to the findings in this research. In a study by Tulukçu (2017), the results show that technology and design teachers had positive attitudes towards computer-supported teaching styles, developing social skills, renewing teaching programs parallel to technological developments, and developing transfer skills.

Cheruvu (2014) stressed that teachers could raise everlasting success by collecting systematic information to specify students’ perceptions and needs. It is thought that the results of this research aiming to determine the student needs of technology and design courses may have some improvements in program development studies and policymakers in education. Mercer et al. (2007) proposed that, when using digital platforms to support collaborative learning, it is vital that software features provide opportunities to have productive discussions. A qualitative exploration of the transcript and video provided examples, where elements of the digital tool prompted productive dialogue.

VI. What is the focus of your literature review?

The focus of my literature review is to find studies and research that show the importance of Empathy and that it can be cultivated in young learners. Research on this topic is available. “The word ’empathy’ appeared in 1880, coined by the German psychologist Theodore Lipps with the term Einfühlung –that is, in-feeling– to refer to the recognition of other people’s feelings (Ioannidou & Konstantikaki, 2008). According to Gerdes, Lietz, and Segal (2011), its conceptualization arose both with Lipps and with the psychologist Edward Tichener when investigating the psychological condition or the internal imitation that is experienced as a result of observing other people (Iacoboni, 2008). This skill allows people to know how others feel, as well as to understand and contextualize their thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004). Therefore, it can be stated that Empathy constitutes an effective response to the emotional states and responses generated or expected in other individuals (Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Sadovsky, 2006). Empathy implies recognizing someone else’s feelings, identifying their possible causes, and sharing the emotional experience of a person from outside (Keen, 2007). In other words, Empathy has to do with the adoption of a perspective that implies an imagination exercise aimed at appropriating someone else’s thoughts and feelings in a specific situation, which makes possible a better life and coexistence (Davis, 2004; Ioannidou & Konstantikaki, 2008).

“The knowledge of empathy and values additionally contributes to develop empathic skills and, consequently, to their conscious utilization.” (Gerdes, Segal, Jackson, & Mullins, 2011).

It similarly has a positive impact on suitable moral development (Jollife & Farrington, 2006) and on correct relationships between couples, as well as between parents and children (Busby & Garnder, 2008; Curtner-Smith et al., 2006). The scientific literature also stresses the importance of Empathy as an essential element for most Emotional Intelligence models (Bracket, Rivers, & Salovey, 2011; Joseph & Newman, 2010). An example of this can be found in the socio-emotional intelligence model developed by Bar-On (2006), which includes Empathy –in addition to social responsibility and interpersonal relationships– within Interpersonal Intelligence. Likewise, Empathy cannot be assumed simply as a condition; instead, it becomes an action derived from affection and cognition (Gerdes, Lietz, & Serdes, 2011). It does not necessarily generate or produce action, though, despite being somehow linked to solidarity and justice (Hoffman, 2000).

Not only should students show Empathy but educators as well. Empathy is thus established as a type of understanding which needs to be developed at universities with the aim of achieving effective interpersonal communication that can facilitate personal development and growth (Wilson, 2011). This general condition that every professional must acquire becomes absolutely indispensable for the teaching staff, not only due to the diversity of contexts that they have to face, along with the ever-changing economic, political, and regulatory circumstances but also especially to social and human responsibility (Jeffers, 2008). Thus, Tettegah and Anderson (2007) pointed out that every empathic teacher must acquire the ability to show that they care about their students, and to assume the perspective of the latter –it all based on the mastery of cognitive and affective factors. Such teachers will also have to take advantage of their empathic capacity so that an emotionalregulation of students, aswell as an atmosphere of positive interactions, can be achieved (Good & Brophy, 2000), thus facilitating the consolidation of cognitive reassessment and the management of expressive suppression (Shen, 2012).

Empathy must be implemented in the curriculum. Both positive and negative affection are factors that can act as predictors of satisfaction-with-life levels (Augusto, LopezZafra, Martinez, & Pulido, 2006; Palmer, Donaldson, & Stough, 2002). In the light of all the above, students who are preparing to assume the teaching role need to know the necessary neuronal process that generates affective responses, as well as the implications of brain plasticity and the attachment theory, so that empathy development subsequently becomes a priority inside the classroom. This will facilitate better emotional development within the context of the individual as well as social justice and well-being(Gerdes, Segal, Jackson, & Mullins, 2011).


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