Learning outcomes of a narrative exchange program for high school students : empathy and related constructs

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jason Allen Inman (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
John Habel

Abstract: Narrative 4 is an organization of writers, artists, teachers, and other community leaders, which isprimarily focused on promoting empathy and prosocial behavior among high school students.Narrative 4 uses a unique narrative exchange process and curriculum as their method foraccomplishing this goal. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study to systematicallyinvestigate the effectiveness of this unique program in promoting participant empathy andprosocial behavior. Analysis was limited due to low participation (N=13) and incomplete data.Pretest and posttest measures of empathy and related constructs were taken before and afterparticipation in the program. It was predicted that posttest measures of emotional contagion,cognitive empathy, empathic concern, perspective-taking, and prosocial behavior would besignificantly higher than pretest measures. Paired-sample t-tests were used to examine the datafor significant differences. Contrary to prediction, the only significant change was a decrease incognitive empathy. However, this change was seen only after eliminating a participant’s pair ofoutlier scores to meet normal distribution assumptions for analysis, and caution is recommendedin interpreting the result. It was also hypothesized that changes in prosocial behavior would bemediated by changes in affective empathy (emotional contagion). Because no significantdifference was found between pretest and posttest measures, mediation analysis was not performed. Relationships of changes in empathy measures were also examined using Pearson’sproduct-moment correlation values. It was hypothesized that changes in cognitive empathy andperspective-taking would negatively correlate with changes in emotional disconnection andpersonal distress. Results were unable to provide support for this hypothesis, as the statedrelationships between difference scores were not found to be significant. Lastly, it was predictedthat students’ written reflections on the N4 program would reveal mostly positive viewsregarding the experience, as well as themes of community bonding. Only one participant forwhom consent and assent was obtained provided a reflection. Therefore, this prediction was notevaluated. Discussion follows, including that of the challenges of conducting research withinschools, limitations of the study, and suggested future directions for research.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
disconnection, distress, Empathy, exchange, narrative, Prosocial
High school students -- Psychological testing
Helping behavior
Attitude (Psychology)

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