This strategy helps students develop a respectful approach to taking on another person’s perspective.
Why use it?
- To practice taking on another person’s perspective in a respectful way
- To recognize that understanding another person’s perspective is an ongoing learning process.
- To illustrate that perspective taking can teach students to think metacognitively about their own perspectives and to become aware of their own biases.
- To support students in strengthening empathy skills while exploring a problem or issue during inquiry or design thinking activities.
Tips for success
- Students require enough basic information about the perspectives they will be taking on to develop an informed initial perspective.
- It is important that students are supported in developing an understanding of stereotypes and that they actively challenge stereotypes when they arise rather than confirming them.
- To help students get in the correct frame of mind, consider explaining that it is important for them to recognize that the “Step in” part is more imaginative, while the “Step out” part is more inquiry-driven as they determine what other information they would need to better understand the perspective they’re taking.
How do I use it?
- Consider using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), videos or articles as provocation to engage students in thinking about problem-solving in a real world context.
- Present students with a problem, question or challenge, or encourage them to develop their own.
- E.g., students could design a disaster-proof house to address SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
- Have students decide on the perspective they are taking in a given situation.
- It can be another person, a non-human perspective or a collective group perspective.
- Encourage students to record specific details about the perspective they are taking in their notes or on the Step in, Step out, Step back template.
- E.g., A student could take the perspective of a homeowner in a particular region that is prone to a particular type of natural disaster.
- Students “Step in” to their chosen perspective given what they currently know.
- Encourage students to think about how this person/non-human/group might feel, believe, know or experience and record their thoughts in their notes or on the template.
- E.g., Some guiding questions might be:
- What might the homeowner experience during a natural disaster? What about after the disaster?
- How might the homeowner feel? What might they be concerned about?
- Students “Step out” to determine what other information they might need to gain a better understanding of this perspective.
- Encourage students to think about what else they would need to learn to understand this perspective better, considering both the person/non-human/group and also the environment/situation, and record their thoughts.
- E.g.,Some guiding questions might be:
- What do you need to know about natural disasters to better understand the homeowner’s perspective?
- What do you need to know about the homeowner to better understand how to address the challenge of designing a disaster-proof house?
- Students “Step back” to think about their own perspective and how it impacts their ability to take on another perspective.
- Encourage students to think about what they notice about their own perspective and how it is similar or different to the perspective they are taking on. Ask them to reflect on what they find challenging to understand and why they think that is, and to record their thoughts.
- Students could practice individually or in small groups.
- For some tips on how to support students to work together effectively and respectfully, check out the learning strategy Working Collaboratively.
- Other suggestions for documenting student thinking:
- Sticky notes, concept maps, chart paper, interactive board
- Online environment: Padlet, interactive whiteboard, Google Doc
In order to extend the learning, students could:
- research their questions from the Step out part.
- invite guests into the classroom to share their perspectives.
- interview family or community members to learn more about their perspectives.
- role-play or debate an issue from different perspectives.
- continue problem-solving through the inquiry or design thinking process.