Empathy is defined as ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’ This is something that’s becoming increasingly necessary in a world that seems polarised by intolerance and a lack of cultural understanding and sympathy. Having a greater sense of empathy with an understanding of the people around us can also help us to develop more productive and positive relationships and help reduce personal conflicts. (Peachey Publications, 2018)
My students are currently in the throws of creating a short film (Public Service Announcement, Documentary, or Short Feature) about a problem in the world they want to bring attention to. Students first had to pick the problem, then research more about the problem they selected, finding credible and reliable data about their topic. Then students completed a film proposal on Google Forms before they started their storyboards outlining their vision for the film.
Before we started filming, students create an empathy map to help consider their audience’s perspective. Businesses often use the process of empathy mapping to understand and serve their customers better. By completing the empathy map students have a better understanding on their viewers or direct users of their film.
An empathy map has four quadrants:
The Says quadrant contains what the user will say.
The Thinks quadrant captures what the user is thinking.
The Does quadrant focuses on the actions the user takes.
The Feels quadrant is the user’s emotional response.
I created more specific questions to lead my students through the different quadrants and help them articulate their expectations for their film and the purpose of the film.
The goals section on the bottom of the map helps students with the next steps and create a checklist of things to do to in order to create the film. At the same time, this map reveals any holes in the students design process as well as guide them towards a meaningful film.
Outside of this film project, I think about using empathy maps as a learning tool in English where students create empathy maps about the characters in the stories or literature they are reading. In longer texts, they can gradually build the empathy maps for each of the characters in the story as they gather more information.