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Appears in:
Pages: 4989-4995
Publication year: 2020
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.1305

Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY IN BEGINNER STUDENTS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

A. Aguelo 1, C. Sanz 2, T. Coma 1, S. Baldassarri 1, P. Álvarez 1

1Universidad de Zaragoza (SPAIN)
2Universidad Nacional de La Plata (ARGENTINA)
The development of computational thinking has become a current challenge, since it improves problem solving, and it involves relevant capacities, such as abstraction, modelling, and algorithmic solution, as some of the central axes for achieving effective solutions in different disciplines. For the achievement of these skills, some attitudes are required: confidence in complexity handling, persistence in working with difficult problems, tolerance of ambiguity, and the ability to communicate and work with others to achieve a common goal or solution.

On the other hand, studies referring to empathy, affirm that it is a construct, in which three possible types of processes intervene and are distinguished: non-cognitive, simple cognitive and advanced cognitive. Within the advanced cognitive processes, the one of "adoption of perspectives" is important. Adoption of perspectives is considered as an intentional or deliberate process, in which the observer tries to experience the world of the other. This paper focuses on the analysis of this process, as it is a transversal aspect in the development of communication skills and work with others, related to computational thinking, and it is required in the training of students in Engineering and Computer Science careers, among others.

An experience developed in two universities, one in Spain and the other in Argentina, is presented in the framework of "Introduction to Programming" courses, in order to analyze the students' level of empathy and to know their perception about their abilities to communicate algorithmic solutions to their colleagues, and then, to design a joint solution to a medium complexity problem. This experience constitutes a first step to work on the empathy competence.

The designed activity consists of three stages. The first one aims at making students understand the problem they will have to solve during the activity. To do so, they are given a detailed statement, and a very simple programming exercise is proposed as training. This stage is carried out individually in a maximum time of 45 minutes. In the second stage they are organized in pairs at random. The objective of each pair is to solve a part of the proposed problem, using algorithmic design and programming techniques. The time limit is 1 hour. After that time, two pairs are grouped to complete the third stage. Each group has 5 minutes to explain to the other the solution they are proposing to the problem and the current state of the solution. The challenge of this stage is to exchange the solutions and continue the exercise of the other couple in its current state. The maximum time for this third stage is 1 hour. At the end, the students fill in the "Empathy Quotient" instrument designed by Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright, and a questionnaire where they evaluate their perception of their own empathy and that of the partners they worked with.

Fifty-five students participated in the activity, 24 from Spain and 31 from Argentina. When analyzing the results, a low degree of empathy is observed, but among women the degree is higher, with some scores above the average. As far as the behaviors related to the adoption of perspectives, it is interesting to emphasize that the group, mainly, says to appreciate the point of view of another person, although it shows very low punctuation in the behavior related to the flexibility of the own point of view.
@InProceedings{AGUELO2020EDU,
author = {Aguelo, A. and Sanz, C. and Coma, T. and Baldassarri, S. and {\'{A}}lvarez, P.},
title = {EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY IN BEGINNER STUDENTS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE},
series = {12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN20 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-17979-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2020.1305},
url = {https://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2020.1305},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Online Conference},
month = {6-7 July, 2020},
year = {2020},
pages = {4989-4995}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Aguelo AU - C. Sanz AU - T. Coma AU - S. Baldassarri AU - P. Álvarez
TI - EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY IN BEGINNER STUDENTS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
SN - 978-84-09-17979-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2020.1305
PY - 2020
Y1 - 6-7 July, 2020
CI - Online Conference
JO - 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN20 Proceedings
SP - 4989
EP - 4995
ER -
A. Aguelo, C. Sanz, T. Coma, S. Baldassarri, P. Álvarez (2020) EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY IN BEGINNER STUDENTS OF COMPUTER SCIENCE, EDULEARN20 Proceedings, pp. 4989-4995.
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