INL101 - Introduction to Empathetic Design

Outline info
Last revision date 2017-12-11 12:19:53.374
Last review date 2017-12-11 12:19:53.376

Subject Title
Introduction to Empathetic Design

Subject Description
This course is an introduction to design thinking for developing user-centered solutions for a product, strategy, and process. Students will use qualitative research focused on what users do, say, feel, and think to understand deeply a user's perspective, motivations, and aspirations.  In this course, students will learn to use a beginner's toolkit for rapid design sprints.

This course is offered in a hybrid delivery format combining both in and out-of-class learning. For the January 2018 term, the in-class sessions will take place on January 20, February 24 and March 24 from 1pm-4pm at Newnham Campus. The out-of-class learning activities will include self-guided field trips, project work and visits to leading entrepreneurial start-up companies located within the GTA.

Credit Status
One credit.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:
1. Explain the entrepreneurial mindset, and how it applies to your field.
2. Explain what user-centered design is and why it is important to employ when creating new products, strategy and processes.
3. Explain the role of developing deep empathy for users in this process.
4. Discuss and compare qualitative research approaches for developing an empathetic understanding of users.
5. Use the design-thinking framework to pick a problem (product, strategy or process), conduct qualitative research, and develop an understanding for the initial tools of rapid ideation and validation of solutions.

Essential Employability Skills
Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.


  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent;
  • Mature Student Status (age 19 or older).

Topic Outline
1. What is an entrepreneurial mindset and how does it apply in any field?
2. What is user-centered design?
3. Why is developing empathy for users important, and how might we leverage different tools to uncover what users do, say, feel and think?
4. Conducting qualitative research with users – methods and tools.
5. Problem finding – product, strategy and process.
6. Beginner’s toolkit for rapid design sprints -- steps and tools.

Mode of Instruction
Delivery is mixed, blending face-to-face instructions and facilitating out of classroom experiences and/or online instructions on Blackboard.

Prescribed Texts
Course Packet

Reference Material
In course packet

Required Supplies
Supplies list to be sent out prior to start date of session

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Assignments are due on the dates specified. Should extenuating circumstances arise, please contact your instructor prior to the assignment due date so that an appropriate course of action can be established. Late assignments may be subject to a penalty of up to 10% per week and will not generally be accepted beyond two weeks from the due date.

In cases of cheating or plagiarism, the College Academic Policy will prevail. Please ensure that all assignments and reports are properly documented.

Students are referred to the following website for Seneca College Library style guides, Academic Honesty Policy and Copyright guidelines: http:/

Dates for evaluations are specified in the weekly schedule addendum to this outline. The evaluation process may include, but is not limited to, tests, exams, assignments or presentations. Any absences or missed submissions due to medical or other reasons must be supported by medical or other appropriate documentation within one (1) week of the due date. The faculty and program area must be notified immediately in the event of a missed evaluation. Upon acceptance of the documentation, the weighting of the missed deliverable will normally be applied to the final exam.

Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Participation 10%
Case Studies/Assignments 15%
Term Work * 55%
Final Project Submission 20%

English Competency
The ability to communicate effectively is essential for success in business. Therefore, you must demonstrate English competency in this course in both oral and written work. Ensure your written work includes correct sentence structure, spelling and punctuation. Always spell check, edit and proofread your work.

Approved by: Academic Program Manager Emiliano Introcaso