The purpose of this paper is to examine whether or not the implementation of an instructional unit about an underrepresented historical figure, specifically Elizabeth Jennings, titled “The Elizabeth Jennings Project” (EJP) creates conditions conducive for middle and secondary social studies students to demonstrate historical empathy.
A case study methodology was selected for this study because the researcher implemented the EJP at one school with a small sample size of participants to assess which pedagogical factors, if any, fostered historical empathy through analysis of an underrepresented historical figure among middle and secondary social studies students.
Major findings highlight that active learning pedagogies, such as in-class debate, were effective strategies that promote historical empathy when middle and secondary students examined documents about an underrepresented historical figure. Analysis of the implementation of “The EJP” provides insights about how historical empathy pedagogies can connect to national standards and initiatives such as the Common Core Standards for History/Social Studies and the National Council for the Social Studies College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for middle and secondary social studies.
Historical empathy refers to deep inquiry in which intellectual and affective responses to content are shaped through source analysis of the actions, motives, perspectives and beliefs of people in the past. Although there are several studies that address pedagogies that promote historical empathy through examinations of famous historical figures, there is limited research concerning whether students display historical empathy by investigating underrepresented historical figures such as Elizabeth Jennings.
This paper is an expanded version of the author’s dissertation from the Middle and Secondary Education Department in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. The author acknowledges Dr Chara Bohan, Dr Joseph Feinberg, Dr Kristen Buras and Dr Robert Baker.
Perrotta, K. (2018), "Pedagogical conditions that promote historical empathy with “The Elizabeth Jennings Project”", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 129-146. https://doi.org/10.1108/SSRP-11-2017-0064Download as .RIS
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