Design Thinking: Empathizing to Understand the Problem

Prerequisites: Successful completion of THINK501x Learn how to identify and understand product or business problems through active listening, empathy and user-focused research. 6 weeks 8 – 12 hours each week recommended

Please select the start dates for your courses below.

Scheduled Start:

About this course

When you immerse yourself in the context of the user, you can uncover pain points and find opportunities for improvement or innovation not always evident to your audience.

In this course, part of the Design Thinking MicroMasters program, you will learn how to use simple research methodologies including active listening to understand your target audience and uncover their obvious or latent needs.

Emphasis will be placed on observation and interviewing as key methods to gain empathy for the user’s experience and viewpoint. Equipped with this understanding, you will be prepared to identify and define more accurately the business problem.

You will also review case studies and discuss strategies to foster productive client-stakeholder relationships, including user personification, context understanding, and empathy idea mapping (ideas that resonate with your target audience).

What you’ll learn

  • Recognize the user’s emotive response to context and circumstance (i.e. products, environments, and services)
  • Understand a holistic approach to problem solving
  • Plan research activities to gather and analyze data from a user’s viewpoint
  • Demonstrate an appreciation for creative methods to document user needs and illustrate future solution possibilities


  • Successful completion of THINK501x

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

Meet Your Instructor

Jennifer Englert - Pearson Advance

Jennifer Englert

Adjunct Professor, Industrial Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology Jennifer Englert, PhD, has led user experience, human factors, and user interface design projects for 20 years. She is currently a User Experience Researcher in the UX Research and Analytics group at Paychex, and an adjunct professor at RIT. She teaches the master’s-level capstone class in the Industrial Engineering department, and taught Introduction to Qualitative Policy Analysis in the Public Policy department at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has also lectured and coached student teams for RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Englert’s work has focused on a broad range of topics, including business processes, healthcare, privacy, customer care, production printing, digital packaging, consumer imaging, space shuttle mission control, video and consumer analytics, and the future of work. She has done this work as a user interface designer and researcher at Microsoft, Apple, NASA, Kodak, Xerox, PARC, and Conduent Labs. Dr Englert is the co-author of 21 patents and over 40 book chapters and peer-reviewed papers. She has also coached two Odyssey of the Mind teams for the last 7 years. Her teams have created hand-made vehicles, props, costumes, and performances, and have advanced to the state and world tournaments multiple times. Dr. Englert received her BA in Psychology from Angelo State University, and her MS and PhD in Cognitive Engineering from The Ohio State University, where she also worked as a Visiting Scholar and Lecturer.


6 Weeks

Experience Level


Learning Partner

Rochester Institute of Technology



Program Type



Business & Management Design Engineering
Advanced Business Harvard X-Series