Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Suzanne H. Jones


Suzanne H. Jones


Kathleen Mohr


Jeff Nokes


Kerry Jordan


Nicole Pyle


Theoretical and empirical evidence indicate a possibility that reading certain types of historical texts could improve different constructs of empathy that include theory of mind (ToM), empathic concern (EC), and historical perspective-taking (HPT).The objective of this study was to compare the effect of reading a collection of primary documents in comparison to a historical narrative on ToM, HPT, and EC for adolescents in an eighth-grade history class. Students were randomly assigned to read either a historical narrative or a collection of adapted historical documents with approximately the same length, and reading level. This researcher controlled for student comprehension scores, ToM scores, estimated amount of reading frequency, gender, and age. Post reading, students were assessed on ToM, EC, and HPT using age-appropriate and valid measures.

The results demonstrated no statistical difference for individuals assigned to read either text as measured by ToM, EC, and HPT. Individuals with higher comprehension abilities in the historical document group were more likely to read for a longer period of time than individuals with high comprehension abilities in the narrative group. Empathic emotions for the narrative group were significantly correlated with higher HPT. The researcher argues that better ToM assessments need to be developed for adolescents and the relationship of reading historical texts and empathy for adolescents should be a topic of future research.



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