Empathy Interview

In the design process, before clearly identifying a problem, it’s crucial to gain empathy. The designer must listen to people’s stories and experiences to understand how others have interacted with the product or system they (the designer) are trying to design. As American public education is a system that nearly everyone directly interacts with and that affects everyone in some way, it is extremely important that we conduct interviews with teachers and students to better understand their experiences with the system in order to have a better understanding of how the system can be improved. 

We’ve recently begun conducting interviews with teachers and students. Here are questions we usually ask when speaking with teachers:

  • Tell me about your experiences in school as a student?
  • Tell me about why you wanted to become a teacher?
  • Did you always want to be a teacher?
  • Why were some of your teachers your favorite teachers?
  • Tell me about your first day of teaching
  • How have your teaching methods evolved over the years?
  • What is your favorite part of your day, what is your least favorite part of your day and why?
  • Do you feel like you get to spend most of your day doing your favorite part of your job?
  • What has held you in this profession?
  • Have your reasons for wanting to be a teacher changed over the years?
  • When do you feel like you are being most effective? When do you feel like you are not effective in teaching? Why?
  • What do you believe your responsibilities are as a teacher?
  • How important is curiosity in education?
  • When do you feel like you are most curious?
  • When do you think students are most curious?
  • What role does curiosity play in education?

Here are questions we usually ask when speaking with students:

  • Tell me about your experiences in school as a student? Do you like school? What do you like about it?
  • What is your favorite part of your day, what is your least favorite part of your day and why?
  • What is/was your favorite class? Least favorite class? Why?
  • Do you have a favorite teacher? Why are they your favorite teacher?
  • Tell me about your first day of school this year
  • How do you think you are different as a student and a learner from when you first entered school to now?
  • Tell me about how you feel throughout your day.
  • Tell me about how you feel when the school day is over
  • When do you feel most engaged at school? When do you feel least engaged?
  • Tell me about when you feel most curious
  • What do you feel your responsibilities are as a student?
  • What do you feel your responsibilities are as a learner?
  • Is there a difference between being a good student and a good learner?
  • Which one do you feel you are like?
  • What do you think the ultimate goal of your education is?
  • Where are you curious?
  • When do you feel excited about subject material?
  • Have you ever been interested in something you didn’t originally think you would be interested in?
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