The role of empathy in teaching culturally diverse students: A qualitative study of teachers' beliefs

Gretchen F McAllister, Jacqueline Jordan Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

105 Scopus citations


This study provides a description of 34 practicing teachers' beliefs regarding the role of empathy as an attribute in their effectiveness with culturally diverse students. Empathy involves cognitive, affective, and behavioral components that teachers believed were manifested in their practice. All of these teachers had participated in a multicultural professional development program geared to fostering culturally responsive practice. Through a content analysis of more than 125 documents, three themes in teachers' practices emerged: More positive interactions with culturally diverse students, more supportive classroom climates, and more student-centered practices. In addition, teachers discussed their most valuable learning experiences in the professional development course. These included a cross-cultural simulation, cultural immersion trips, and their own experiences as minorities. The results from this study underscore the importance of creating contexts in teacher education and professional development programs in which teachers and preservice teachers use and nurture empathetic dispositions and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-443
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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