Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Game of I Am: Enhancing Empathy and Improving Attitudes toward Older Adults in First-Year Master's Students Training to Become Counselors and Student Support Professionals
by Bailey, Sara W., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2018, 269; 10747965
Abstract (Summary)

In the United States, adults 65 and older represent a significant and growing cultural minority (Cohn & Taylor, 2011). Ageist stereotypes, whether directed at older adults or internalized by elders themselves, can cause real harm to elders’ mental and physical health (Nelson, 2016a). Mezirow’s transformative learning theory (TLT; 1991) directly addresses the essential nature of challenging personal prejudices and cultivating empathy as critical to development within the adult learner, and transformative empathy-enhancing interventions have been used successfully to improve attitudes toward older adults in helping professionals and professionals-in-training (e.g., Friedman & Goldbaum, 2016; Henry & Ozier, 2011). Even though older adults receive mental health services at a lower rate than any other age demographic (Karel, Gatz, & Smyer, 2012), and greater numbers of older adults are entering postsecondary education (Chen, 2017; DiSilvestro, 2013; Kasworm, 2010), there has been limited focus in counseling and higher education research on meeting the needs of this expanding demographic. Intervening early in students’ training to address age-related biases and to foster empathetic awareness (Andersson, King, & Lalande, 2010) aligns with the counseling profession’s commitment to purposeful counselor preparation (Kaplan, Tarvydas, & Gladding, 2014) and professional competency standards for student support professionals (ACPA & NCPA, 2015).

Using Bartholomew’s (1998) Intervention Mapping model (IM), I developed a three-part empathy-enhancing transformative learning intervention, “The Game of I am” (Bailey, 2016c). Using a pre-post quasi-experimental design, the purpose of the current feasibility study was to test the preliminary effectiveness of the intervention at enhancing self-reported empathy and improving self-reported attitudes toward older adults with first-year master’s students training to be counselors (N = 14) and student support professionals (N = 13). Although preliminary qualitative themes emerged that supported its utility, quantitatively there were no statistically significant changes in mean empathy and attitude scores for the participants following participation in “The Game of I am” (Bailey, 2016c). Additional plans for the analysis of collected qualitative data are described and implications for integrating “The Game of I am” (Bailey, 2016c) into existing master’s level coursework are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gonzalez, Laura M., Borders, L. DiAnne
Commitee: Adams, Rebecca G., Mobley, A. Keith
School: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Department: Counseling and Educational Development
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Gerontology, Adult education, Higher education
Keywords: Ageism, Counselor education, Empathy, Gerontology, Higher education, Transformative learning
Publication Number: 10747965
ISBN: 9780438086869
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