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Empathy and Narrative Fiction: The Effects of Palacio’s "Wonder" on Fourth-Grade Students’ Empathy

by Freliech, Lydia Marie

Abstract

Narrative fiction, as a vehicle for empathic development, is deemed important across many contexts; however, limited empirical studies have examined this hypothesis as it relates to elementary students. The purpose of this mixed-methods action-research study is to investigate whether reading narrative fiction, combined with classroom activities on empathy and perspective, potentiates empathy in fourth-grade students. Participants (N = 46) were asked to complete pre- and post-unit questionnaires to measure empathy within three domains: affective empathy, cognitive empathy, and intention to help. Questionnaire data from the eleven-week novel study demonstrated statistically significant growth in my students’ empathy across all three domains. There was no significant difference in empathy growth between males and females in the three empathy domains. Qualitative data from eight academically diverse fourth-grade case studies were analyzed to further investigate the development of students’ empathy. Results indicated that during the eleven-week novel study, students developed their abilities to articulate their own affected emotions, their understanding of another’s emotions, and their plans to help another.

Note

The author has given permission for this work to be deposited in the Digital Archive of Colorado College.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Includes bibliographical references.

Administrative Notes

The author has given permission for this work to be deposited in the Digital Archive of Colorado College.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Colorado College Tutt Library
PID
coccc:30127
Digital Origin
born digital
Extent
41 pages : illustrations
Thesis
Senior Thesis -- Colorado College
Thesis Advisor
Kristina Valtierra
Department/Program
Education
Degree Name
Bachelor of Arts
Degree Type
bachelor
Degree Grantor
Colorado College Tutt Library
Date Issued
2017-07