Humanistic STE(A)M instruction through empathy: leveraging design thinking to improve society

Sarah B. Bush, Daniel Edelen, Thomas Roberts, Cathrine Maiorca, Jessica T. Ivy, Kristin L. Cook, L. Octavia Tripp, Megan Burton, Sahar Alameh, Christa Jackson, Margaret J. Mohr-Schroeder, D. Craig Schroeder, Regina P. McCurdy, Richard Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


When the current generation of K-12 learners has the opportunity to improve global issues and quality of life, they are inspired to advocate for worthy and ethical causes. Thus, we consider moving beyond the perspective of STE(A)M education from a workforce and global economic focus towards empathy-oriented STE(A)M learning as a humanistic pursuit to generating equitable solutions. This position paper leverages the Design Thinking framework as a theoretical grounding in advocating for the use of empathy as a key intellectual component to learning within integrated K-12 STE(A)M instruction. The purpose of this position paper is to (1) provide an overview of the Design Thinking Framework and discuss how it centres empathy in STE(A)M instruction; (2) share existing literature on the use of empathy in STE(A)M education; (3) theorize and synthesize how the intentional incorporation of empathy in STE(A)M instruction might address needs in well-known STE(A)M instructional methods; and (4) propose and discuss future steps for integrating empathy into the field of STE(A)M education that can benefit K-12 students, particularly those historically excluded in STE(A)M.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Access
  • K-12 STEAM education
  • K-12 STEM education
  • design thinking
  • empathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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