Date of Award



© 2022 D. E. Fulford

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Jennifer Scott

Second Advisor

Audrey Rabas

Third Advisor

Kelly Bradbury


Empathy—the human attribute of possessing concern for other humans in a way that others’ emotions are mirrored—is both an inborn characteristic, and one that can be taught in various settings throughout one’s life. This qualitative narrative inquiry study explored perceptions from undergraduate college students regarding empathy cultivation in the college humanities classroom setting using the theory of mind—the perspective-taking ability to infer other people’s intentions. Through Zoom-based, semi-structured interviews, data was collected from five undergraduate students at the university research site. Using thematic analysis to examine the data, four prominent themes emerged: (a) empathy cultivation in the classroom, (b) empathy cultivation in formative settings, (c) instructor support in empathy cultivation, and (d) the specific pedagogical strategies of small groupwork and discussions. The most prominent finding was that the study participants unanimously agreed empathy cultivation can and should transpire in the classroom setting; this could be beneficial for current or future instructors, students, and administrative personnel to understand empathy, and create and promote pedagogical materials to effectively deliver that end. It is recommended that instructors integrate specific pedagogical strategies into their curriculum and that administrators provide the necessary time and materials for instructors to be able to do so.


Ed.D. Dissertation