Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Redemptive Curricula: Ethnic Studies and Empathy
by Dunbar, Rena Joy, D.Ed., University of Oregon, 2020, 118; 28000608
Abstract (Summary)

Courses in ethnic studies challenge power dynamics in the classroom, create the conditions for multiple experiences and perspectives to be present, and examine the history and legacy of racism and how it operates. Additionally, ethnic studies courses may foster empathy across all identity groups in ways that traditional classrooms do not. Using an explanatory sequential mixed methods study set within a critical race pedagogical framework, the author theorized that ethnic studies courses go beyond academic impacts and can foster the notion of cross-racial empathy (CRE), or empathy across all identity groups. In a pre/post, treatment/control, design, six classrooms, three ethnic studies and three treatment group US history courses, took the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE) survey at the beginning and end of the fall semester of 2019. Contrary to the author’s hypothesis, analysis of survey results showed that students in both types of classes grew in CRE over time but that students in ethnic studies students did not exhibit greater CRE growth than students in US history courses, as measured by the SEE. However, results showed that students who enrolled in ethnic studies courses had higher baseline levels of empathic awareness, indicating that students who take ethnic studies courses are more likely to be aware of or concerned about institutional barriers and/or discrimination face by others in social/ethnic/racial groups. Qualitative focus group responses indicated that CRE is bolstered by ethnic studies curricula particularly through intentional community-building, listening to peer’s personal experiences, and creating agents of change. This study sheds light on possible non-academic benefits of ethnic studies, specifically cross-racial empathy and understanding, and identifies elements of ethnic studies instruction that support students’ growth in this area.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Umansky, Ilana
Commitee: Smith, Joanna, Sabzalian, Leilani, Srivastava, Sanjay
School: University of Oregon
Department: Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethnic studies, Secondary education, Educational leadership
Keywords: Critical Pedagogy, Education, Empathy, Ethnic Studies, Racism, Secondary Education, Cross-racial empathy
Publication Number: 28000608
ISBN: 9798664703115
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