Teachers are increasingly encouraged to creatively integrate technology into their classroom instruction as designers of technology-enhanced learning (TEL). However, they are often not competent in designing TEL due to their lack of experience as participatory designers as well as the ill-structure nature of TEL design problem. Design thinking, as a methodology and a framework for the design process, can serve as a guideline for the development of pre-service teachers’ creativity. However, there is a lack of research investigating whether the strategies used in the empathizing stage of the design thinking process affect pre-service teachers’ creativity differently. This study explored the effects of two commonly used empathy strategies, interview and observation, on pre-service teachers’ creativity through a six-week learning design activity for pre-service teachers majoring in Science and Technology Education at a first-tier university in China. The results of this quasi-experimental research showed that the pre-service teachers using the interview empathy strategy performed better in creative problem-solving performance. While there was no significant difference in the pre-service teachers’ creative thinking disposition between the two empathy strategies, the pre-service teachers using the interview strategy reported more positive creative confidence in their creativity than those using the observation strategy. This study suggests future research directions for supporting design thinking–based instructional design.

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