Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Elina Lampert-Shepel

Abstract

Research indicates that the application of historical empathy, defined as using historical evidence to reconstruct past perspectives, engenders critical thinking in students. There is lack of research on the level of comprehension and use of historical empathy as an instructional strategy by high school history instructors. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore teachersâ?? comprehension and application of historical empathy in 2 high schools. This study was grounded in Edmund Husserlâ??s concept of intersubjectivity, which suggests that apperception facilitates the grasp of multiple perspectives. Research questions addressed history teacher comprehension and employment of historical empathy as a tool to improve studentsâ?? understanding of multiple historical perspectives. All 7 local history teachers participated in this case study. Data collection included classroom observations that were followed by semi-structured teacher interviews to discuss what was observed. Six themes resulted from open, axial, and selective coding of field notes and interview transcriptions. These themes indicated that participants were unfamiliar with historical empathy, emphasized the necessity of emotion in learning, perceived the need to help students understand historical actors, stressed the need for artifacts and site visits to generate context, and used analogies to develop perspectives. These themes informed the project of a position paper recommending professional development for teachers in historical empathy. Increasing awareness of and developing empathetic instructional strategies within the classroom can foster positive social change by engendering apperceptive skills among local history students and has broader potential to increase the efficacy of museum education and heritage programs.

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