Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Specht, Jacqueline A.


Background. Empathy is a crucial means through which diversity is appreciated. Applying inclusivity at a young age and throughout the education curriculum is optimal for social and emotional development alongside academic development. Method. Nineteen students in Grade 5 participated in the language arts curriculum Shakespeare Can be Fun. Writing samples were collected before and after the perspective taking lesson and coded for empathy. Results. Independent t-tests comparing the pre-post writing categories of Organization, Creativity, Voice and Affect, and Grammar generated no significant results. Further t-tests were conducted within Voice and Affect and the item identifying Evidence for Empathy was significant. Qualitative themes were also analyzed. Discussion. Narrative writing supports the development of empathy but it remains unclear whether writing skills translates into prosocial behaviour. Conclusion. The “hidden curriculum” appears to aid social and emotional development in inclusive classrooms alongside traditional academia. Practical implications for school counsellors are discussed.