Articles, Blog

Dissertation Defense: Gina Cerasani- Moments of Connection: Cultivating Empathy

October 2, 2019


Committee and thanks, of course,
to my committee members Susan Kirsch and Kim Eby, who are on Skype,
and Solon Simmons. I’ll begin my presentation
today by setting the stage and establishing the context for
my research while describing empathy and situating it in the CAR field as I’m
describing the role plays I studied and the conflicts on which they were based. Next I’ll turn to an explanation
of my research methods, and I’ll present my findings along
with the limitations of the study. And finally,
I’ll consider the implications of my findings for the CAR field. I still don’t like coal from what the
collection of it does to our environment. But if I had the opportunity to
discontinue its use tomorrow, I could not in good conscience do so with
out providing some alternative, sorry, some alternative means of support to those
who rely on the coal mining economy. If these two feelings about coal
aren’t the result of empathy, I struggle to imagine what
else could be to blame. This is a quote from a student written in
a reflection paper for an undergraduate course I taught that was solely focused
on simulating a conflict related to the practice of mountaintop mining in the
Appalachian region of the United States. Recognizing that this student believed
that he had empathy with coal miners after participating in this course’s
role play activity set me on a course to understand what empathy is,
what its role in conflict analysis and resolution is, and how it is cultivated. I started with four research questions. The first two reflect my interest
in understanding empathy and how it fits in the field broadly, and in the pedagogy of experiential
learning and role play in particular. The third and fourth questions reflect
my desire to investigate how empathy works in role plays, and specifically
discover components of role play that cultivate empathy in participants
with the role play characters. And I just want to note for a moment that there are copies of the role
plays around the tables and in the back. So if anyone wants and
also my research questions and some other relevant information
that you might want. Why is it important for CAR scholars and
practitioners to understand empathy? Multiple CAR scholars,
including Benjamin Ferno and Louis Kreisburg,
represent empathy in their work. As a concept however,
it remains vague in the CAR literature, both with regard to what it is and
how and when it occurs. It is an important component of such
conflict resolution techniques as dialogue, problem solving workshops,
and some forms of mediation. A key element of facilitated dialogue for example is to understand how people with
different views are seeing an issue. Should I pause for
a minute, or are we okay? As I studied empathy, I learned that
the concept has been described in detail, in the field of psychology in particular,
and has been explored in anthropology. Other practical fields
such as medicine and design have investigated practices
to cultivate empathy successfully. For example, Auburn offers a model
of empathy to the medical field as an alternative into detached cognition for
sympathy, and argues that imagination helps diverge the divide between one’s own
experience and the experiences of others. Reviewing the literature on empathy and
considering its importance to the CAR field convinced me
of the need in the field for a practical understanding of what
empathy is and how it functions. This chart displays multiple types
of empathy that appear in various literatures. It’s divided into two primary categories,
dispositional and situational. Dispositional empathy is
thought to be innate. My focus is on situational empathy, or empathy that is induced
in a particular situation. Cognitive empathy is most closely
associated with perspective taking, which is a familiar
concept in the CAR field. Emotional and cognitive empathy
are often thought of as distinct, but some scholars including Martin Joyce,
consider the blending of cognitive and emotional empathy to be full empathy. Just a brief background. The word empathy first appeared
in the English lexicon in 1909, when it was translated from
German to mean feeling into. I’m not going to pronounce
that word in German. It’s understanding or
temporarily experiencing the thoughts and feelings of another person. So through my extensive review of
the literature on empathy from multiple fields, I’ve identified
the following elements that recur throughout the literature and
have guided my research. I’ve chosen this way of
conceptualizing empathy because it seems most appropriate for
the way it is used in the CAR field. Empathy includes both affective and
cognitive elements. The conflicts with which CAR practitioners
engage tend to include strong emotions, and there are likely emotional aspects
of conflict parties’ perspectives. Empathy is realized through
intersubjective experiences. And unlike dispositional empathy, which is
thought to be largely static, engaging in situational empathy is a dynamic process
marked by moments of connection and disconnection. The experience can be fleeting
because accurately imagining what another person is experiencing
presents a challenge. In addition to its importance
in conflict resolution practice, empathy is an important
part of conflict analysis. An analyst must imagine what the parties
are thinking and feeling, or how they are experiencing the conflict,
to be able to fully understand it. Multiple studies have demonstrated
that empathy can be cultivated through role play. For example, a 2002 study found that graduate
students in psychology effectively used role play to increase empathy with
those who have psychological disorders. Therefore, I focused my research not on
whether role plays are effective tools for cultivating empathy, but rather on
an understanding how the process occurs. I wanted to learn what elements
of role play induce situational empathy in participants, and
I discovered two important elements. First, activities designed
to prepare participants for role plays that engage them
in narrative exercises. And second, the active participants Performing
their characters in the role play. The undergraduate experiential learning
project was a Department of Education grant funded three year project
of which I was a member. The project developed several
experiential learning activities and service learning programs from
undergraduate complex resolution students including the two role plays I studied. Susan Hersch authored one of the role
plays and I authored the other. The project collected multiple forms of
data for evaluation including pretests and posttests, reflection papers written
by students, and audio and video recordings of the activities, all of which
I analyzed in the course of my research. I collected multiple forms of data. Either as an instructor or as a guest
in another instructor’s classroom, I observed all 16 sessions of
the two role plays I studied, which ran in two courses
over six semesters. I took notes while observing the sessions. Most sessions were recorded and
I watched or listened to all recordings. I interviewed eight students
who were selected for interviews because they had
demonstrated or reported empathy. And I conducted some semi structured
interviews with each of these students. Students submitted reflection papers or responses to exam questions about
the role play for all sessions. The pretests and posttests included
questions about empathy, but they proved to be only somewhat useful, in part
because empathy is difficult to measure. Other questions on the posttests, however,
such as one asking students what was most compelling for them,
yielded valuable results. Through my review of the literature,
I found words and phrases that indicate empathy, such as perspective taking,
understanding and connecting. In addition, I knew from my own research how each of the characters positioned
themselves in a conflict and I was familiar with their concerns and
interests. This knowledge, in addition to the literature on authentic
participation, provided a model for an authentic portrayal of
a character which indicated empathy. Authentic participation is characterized,
is engaged and focused. In the context of the role plays, it
included stating character, engaging and simulated community meetings, and
expressing emotions when appropriate. I use this framework to
conduct data analysis. The two role plays I studied were
set in Appalachian communities and were written by authors who were familiar
with the moutaintop mining conflicts upon which they were based. Can We Drink the Water, is a role play
that ran in two to three class sessions, involved multiple stakeholders and
centered on community meetings to discuss water contamination
in an elementary school. The Last Resort ran in a one
credit simulation course, but was similar to Can We Drink
the Water in other ways. It featured community meetings to
discuss proposed development and economic dependence on coal mining. The conflict upon which the role plays
were based involves multiple issues and stakeholders. For those who aren’t familiar with
the practice, mountaintop mining involves the removal of the top of a mountain to
allow miners to access the coal seams. Many communities are divided
over the issue and although it has been rare,
there have been violent encounters. This is a student taking a photo
of a mountaintop mine adjacent to Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. From this photo, it’s really easy to see
the contrast between the mine sight and the unmolested mountain adjacent to it. I used role play because I wanted students
to experience the conflict as if they were members of the community as
they were studying community with an organizational conflict. Role play is an established pedagogue for
providing such an experience. Role play is not without its detractors
and I address that directly with students in a guided discussion in which
we identify opportunities and challenges in role play. If you had an opportunity to look
at the handout of the role plays, you’ll see that each includes six or seven characters representing the various
stakeholders in the conflict. To prepare, students watch a documentary
and a presentation on the conflict [INAUDIBLE], then completed assigned
readings and a journaling exercise. Engaged in a caucus session with
students portraying the same character, and participated in a guided
visioning activity prior to entering simulated community meetings. Students have time to immerse themselves
in the character and opportunities to step out of the character and reflect on
their experience in debriefing sessions. Now I’ll play a brief audio clip of one
of the simulated community meetings. So that’s gonna require me
to make an adjustment here.>>[CROSSTALK].>>So just to give you a flavor of
what it sounds like in practise. Assignments are exercises to prepare for
the role play were considered to be narrative activities if they engage
students in either creating a narrative for their character, sharing their
character narrative with other participants, or
learning about the conflict narratives. A documentary about a coal mining
community, the presentation on the conflict, a journal binding exercise,
reading book chapters and articles, watching video clips, and
meeting with other students portraying the same character to discuss the
narratives developed for the character. I focused on two activities because
they serviced in both the literature and my findings as ways of
cultivating empathy. All students who were interviewed,
cited that the journaling exercise, as a component of the role play that
helped them connect with their character. Others refer to it in
reflection papers and post When writing about their ability to
empathize or connect with their character. This finding was consistent with
the extensive literature on the link between narrative engagement and empathy. For example,
a 2012 study found that students who constructed narrative
personas developed empathy. So our design students who constructed
narrative personas developed empathy that can be reserved for product or service. While the journaling exercise provided
students the opportunity to develop their own character, the documentary offered
a look into a community struggling with the conflict that they would
soon simulate in the roleplay. As with the journaling exercise,
students wrote or spoke about the documentary in relation
to increase perspective taking empathy or connection with their character. And this was also consistent
with finding literature. Like written narratives, documentaries
are used to fulfill the design, to cultivate empathy, and designers with
those who use products and services. The journal entry was
written in the first person. Through this exercise, students created
a story for their character that included important relationships, hopes,
fears, and mundane daily activities. I created an entire story for
them beyond what I was given in class and his grandfather was actually a miner. So he was on the ground,
had been working on the ground. That created, I imagine,
this kind of tie between the character, my character,
the principal and the miners. But at the same time, I realize that my character wanted
to protect the children as well. So he would not necessarily
side with the miners, but his family history makes him
almost have to side with them. That’s when I started to develop
an empathy with him, for him. This quote demonstrates a students
recognition of the complexity of relationships, and the impact she
imagines it has on her character.>>[COUGH]
>>The documentary which was set in a town in Kentucky that was experiencing
conflict related to mountaintop mining, provided an example of a similar
community and the people who live there. In particular, it revealed
relationships between people who were on opposite sides of the issue but
had a long history of friendship. Through such stories, the students got
a sense of the complexity of the conflict and it’s impact on the parties involved. In addition to challenging
preconceived notions of the conflict. I’ll play a short clip from the film now, so you can get a sense of the story line.>>I know strait matter ain’t perfect. But it’s a good thing.>>That’s not it, Eugene.>>Mining is our home.>>Merciful God, look at that.>>Why is coal the only job that we have?>>Mountaintop mining,
we take pride in the geological purpose.>>But remember,
we’re still in the subject.>>The decision that Terry is trying to
make right now, I made ten years ago.>>He has a price, I don’t have a price. But in my lifetime it’s not gonna happen. [MUSIC] So for context, overburden is a term that
describes the part of the mountain that is removed in order to provide
access to the coal scenes. The quote is, the film stated that the people of
Appalachia are seen as over burdened. Through this simulation it was imperative
to realize this over burdened perspective. Fortunately, this perspective carried
on as we stepped into our roles and helped us to really have
an understanding of the circumstances that our character was facing. The quote indicates that the student
understands the perspective that the people of Appalachia are treated
as though they are in way of a valuable resource, and
that they are insignificant. Although I did not think about it
this way when I started my research, once I learned that the narrative
preparatory activities and the performance elements of roleplay
were closely linked with empathy. I began to think of narrative preparation
as a function of creating characters on a page and the performance of bringing
them to life on a stage of sorts. In a post test question asking what was
most compelling about the roleplay, nearly one third of all students
identified elements of performance, including connecting with their
character and expressing emotion. Several programs including playback
theater and theater of the opressed employed performance to resolve
conflicts by cultivating empathy. For example, playback theater enacts
stories from audience members and has been used to tell the stories of Palestinians,
and to address in the schools. Four elements of performance emerged in my
findings as important to the cultivation of empathy. First, improvisation and
the element of surprise. Students did not have scripts. So they had to be creative and
imaginative but also draw from what they knew about
the conflict in the community. Elements of surprise were built into
the roleplays, including a press release notifying participants of
an accident in an underground mine. The creative thinking required
by improvisation is similar to that which is required by empathy. Suspension of self is related to
a concept found in the literature self forgetfulness, which is the act of considering another in
favor of ones self for a period of time. Depending on the characters
they were portraying and the role play dynamics,
students engaged both in suspension and connection with their own life experiences
and perspectives of the conflict. As a parent, my immediate thought was,
I empathize with this man or woman’s need to put food on the table. The student shared something
in common with her character. That was an important
part of her own identity. She drew on her own experiences,
to imagine how her character might feel. It’s an emotional conflict. Students who are authentically portraying
their characters expressed emotions. And have both observed those expressions
and read students reflections on them. Students expressed frustration,
excitement, anger, and surprise among other emotions. One emotion commonly
expressed was frustration. And the context for that was frequently
of an issue of perceived insiders and outsiders in the community. Participants used tone of voice,
facial expressions, and body language to convey emotion. Finally, the interactive nature
of the simulated community meetings included unpredictability and
required participation. As an example of unpredictability Students
did not know in advance who would attended meetings,
which mimics the reality of such meetings. Since the role plays were bridging
components in times of the course, students were required to participate and they had a stake in the outcome
in the form of a grade. This is similar to the sense of
mandatory engagement, that many feel in the conduct they were simulating, as these
are individuals who are emotionally and financially invested in their communities. I did experience challenges in
the course of my research and identify some limitations. Tests for measuring empathy
focus on depositional empathy. The detection of situational
empathy relies on self reports. This did not prove to be
an insurmountable challenge for me, in part because framing my
research was how I question. My research was how rather than if. Role playing activities cultivate empathy. Still I had to identify
the students that were appetizing. And that identification relied
in large part in self-enforce. Because my research project formed after evaluation tools had
been developed role play. My ability to adjust them to
meet my needs was limited. I did make some changes to the pretest and
post test, but to maintain consistency from semester to semester,
required leaving them largely untouched. Finally, I was able to I was unable
to interview all the students I had identified as strong candidates for
interviews. Mostly due to difficulties with contacting
them for scheduling the interviews. Additional interviews may have lead to new
revelations or strengthen my argument. As an instructor, I do involve play,
as a fast alternative, can get students into the field or bringing
community members who are experiencing the conflict with the classroom,
to engage in discussions with students. I suspect there are advantages and disadvantages to all of these approaches,
and I think it would benefit the field to better understand the good relation
to the cultivation of empathy. Well, my focus was primarily
on the role play participants. Empathizing with
the characters they portray. More research could be conducted to better
understand how the contrast evolved, for participants empathizing
with other characters. Finally, in thinking beyond
the experience of empathizing. To the ways in which empathy is deployed,
it would be useful tips for how to fast or
shaped by existing public narratives. My findings affirmed music role play
as a tool for cultivating empathy. And they reveal role play practices
that contribute to increased empathy in role-plays that simulate conflicts. In particular, they indicate that
role-plays that include focus preparation for students, in the form of narrative
activities, and attention to the performance elements of role-play
are more likely to reduce empathy. As a result of my research,
I hope the discussion about empathy among scholars in the field
increase and delve into it’s complexities. In particular,
I would like to see our scholars counter some of the simplistic and
potentially damaging notions that the, that had infiltrated many
aspects of mainstream society. Finally engagement with empathy
in the field exists far beyond. The work with undergraduate students. And I trust that the results
of my research will contribute to an ongoing discussion, in which
empathy’s place in conflict analysis and resolution is critically analyzed and
continually developed.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>[APPLAUSE]>>So now we’ll move into the question answer. I don’t know if we need to shift this?>>I was thinking about sitting if that is over
>>So.>>The way we’re going to do it is
that we’ll start per tradition with the outside reader Katie to ask
the first set of questions. Then we’ll move onto the second reader and then finish with the dissertation,
she has her version and then open it up to the audience and
your questions.>>All right. Go ahead Cam.
I think we can hear you.>>Okay. [INAUDIBLE]
>>We just need to boost the volume a little bit.>>So, thank you Gina for the presentation and also for getting me the presentation I was following along here with you. I guess one of the things
that I was really, there’s a couple of things
that I’m really struck by. One is that would you actually have developed I think is well beyond
just role play yes or no. I mean,
you’re really sort of creating a whole framework within which
role plays need to happen. And the way that you sort of set up structured activities in the beginning to
support the role play the information. So you know as somebody who’s sort of
would look when you did a role play sort of search in the literature on using
role play in teaching and learning it. It wouldn’t necessarily
be this whole package. You really have it like a complete full
package about the best practices for setting students up to learn
in this particular way and I was wondering if you could talk a little
bit more about whether or not it’s not the role play per se in the cultivation
>>Of empathy, but this suite of tools if I can use that as a framework
suite of tools that I think used in concert together strengthen
the cultivation of empathy. Because it really isn’t just
one really just isn’t so there doesn’t appear to be any way
based on your findings just one thing.>>The other sort of piece I’d love for
you to comment on a little bit more explicitly really is how to
approach all of that data. And then the specific methods for
reviewing. Did you review all of those final exam
questions, and what sort of themes and approaches were you looking for,
such as pick all of those papers or did you select a sub sample. How did that work? Your formal process for
analyzing observations. I mean what was your approach
sorta systematically? Going through this five different
data sources that you had.>>Great, thank you Sam. So, I’ll start with your first question. And yes, as you know, and so for those of you who haven’t read my
dissertation, which is most people here. In the dissertation, I’ve developed
a set of role play practices. And that is really along the way, as a
starting with this question about empathy. But then was engaged the entire
time with developing role plays. And can continue to improve on them. Engaging and reflection, conversation. Conversation reflect the conversations
with other instructors about how you prefer situations in the role play,
and what can be improved. There were multiple things that developed,
and that I identified as good role play,
practices or best practices if you will. So I think that it’s always in
a dynamic environment like that and it’s challenging to suss
out certain things and to know the effect of one
thing rather than another. So I think that what we’ve found
is that there were multiple elements of this role play
that seems to improve it as a role play not all of them seemed
to be as closer range to empathy. But clearly that the extensive
preparation had, it seemed to have it in the entire
present of the day that I was hoping for three or four answers to my question. That was indicated that one of
the things that’s a common critique at role play seemed to be addressed by
the way that this was approached, and that is that students don’t feel prepared,
that they’re not, especially when they’re portraying characters who are as different
from them as these characters were. That really required them to engage in discussions as community matters that
they just don’t have any familiarity with. So that extensive preparation,
we found, was really useful. And then on the other side of it to have
the opportunity to reflect both through deeper concessions which I write about
extensively in my dissertation and the reflection papers. So they had multiple opportunities to
reflect both kind of in the moment, right after they had completed the role
play, and additionally we were something like that after they had completed and
had time to really think about it. How to think about, and this is important. How connected to the things
that they were running about, him giving outputs and group dynamics.>>Use these.>>Okay, how’s that Susan?>>Yeah that’s good.>>Okay good, so I move here
second question now about how I approached the data, and
to answer the first part of that, yes, I did review all of you. I did not skip steps,
I reviewed all of the exam responses, reflection papers,
everything that we had collected for this. And because it was unfolding as
I was conducting my research, I didn’t have all of that all at once. So as that process began,
once I began my dissertation research and continued, as continued to collect data. So I started with this framework of
partly influenced by the literature. How can we detect is my question
really in approaching the data was. How will I know, how will I get a sign that that’s
what’s happening with the student? And so I looked for keywords, I looked for
themes, seminars from the literature. And then along the way I also discovered
this concept of an authentic portrayal which was useful in identifying
students to be interviewed because that process occurred and that was the one
place where I did select particular set. Bringing the set within the larger set
of all students who participated and that was done by identifying
students falls to appeared to be demonstrated
empathy in the role play and that was identify through
as their engagement and also the way that they were
portraying their character. And so that portrayal and
the authenticity of it really came from my knowledge of the conflict and
the characters and how close they were to accurately
representing those characters. In addition to that, I looked at,
or sorry, in the role play itself, during the debriefing sessions,
some students just really clearly had made a connection and had started, even if they
didn’t usually use the language of empathy and clearly started to understand
their character in a deeper way. And so that was another indication. So, the students I selected
I wasn’t certain that what I thought was
happening was happening. But, I seemed, they seem to be
making those connections in a way that was stronger than what I could have
done to identify with other students. And so I wanted the opportunity
to interview them to explore my hunches about that and
to see if that was actually occurring. So, I think, what I can say is closes to,
well it would be a formal process for
evaluating will be a content analysis. I reviewed the reflection papers, the exams, and those were tests. Those were primarily
anywhere from one page for exam questions to three pages for
reflection papers to look for particular word, such as,
I mean obviously empathy, perspective taking, connecting with
my character, those types of things. And then really what I was looking for
with that is what was happening when they were
identifying those moments. So was that, participating in conversations with other characters,
other students who were playing the same character brought out something that
helped me understand my character, better. Or, was it something about, you know,
writing that journaling exercise, really contributed or
helped me start to maintain, I’m sorry,
go over that connection with my character. Does that get to your question,
I wanna make sure.>>No, it get’s to part of my
question is I guess what I’ll say. I mean I think that in part,
you’ve been so enmeshed in this, that you’ve got a lot
of task at knowledge, trying to pull out all that vast
analogy make it explicit on the page. I imagine it is pretty challenging. It should’ve been part of this
generative from the beginning. I guess, so
the observations in the audio and the video tapes same sort of thing,
what’s your approach to. What was your approach to really
begin to uncover some of that? I know that you said you didn’t
have a formal process, but you’re listing them as data sources so
you had something you were looking for strategically as you walked through and
listened to those hours of videotapes and audiotapes, so I’m curious if you can
say a little bit more about thaat.>>So, one thing that I need especially in
the survey or in watching the video tapes, listening to the audio tapes,
emotion was really, the expression of emotion that genuine emotion was
one thing that one indicators so it was sort of a, provided the cause,
this is a place to really listen. It wasn’t always fruitful. But, it certainly provided
indication that there was something happening that was
potentially a sign of that, kind of,
closer sense of connection with character. So that was definitely one thing that
I specially made audio recordings, listen for because it’s harder
when we See what’s happening. I also did do research on
facial expressions and other forms of expressing emotion
through body language and so there were things
that I was looking for. Rolling eyes for
example something that I would see. So all of these things what I really
have to do was to think about or identify what are that
should be this characters, do with these characters and
what would we expect them to do. And are the things that are happening,
what would be expect the character, it’s dynamic and fluid, so
it wasn’t constant throughout. So the characters were really
responding to what has happening and to the other characters. So they may respond differently, I’m not part of the value of
the role play for the students. Depending on what was
happening in the moment, but there was still some expectation of
what that behavior would look like. So those are the kinds of
things I was looking for. I won’t talk again about the deeper theme
right now because I think really what you’re looking for
is what kinds of things were signs that there was something going on that
might be related to empathy. So I think that a lot emotion was probably
the initial indicator that I looked for and then you sometimes there were
actual words that were used, like I can understand how
this must be hard for you with another character indicating an empathic connection with
a character other than one’s own. Those moments were fewer and
further between. There were times where the student
in character were quite explicit about better understanding what
was happening with someone else.>>And do you have a send of one of issues
that you raised in your discussion, which I thought was interesting was
that for some students performance track challenges might have impacted
their ability to cultivate empathy. And so I guess did you get a sense
that you just looked across students that this was strengthened or
additive in any kind of way? Did you see evidence of cultivation of
empathy even if it’s people who were performance challenged? But it was in their notes, it was in their
writing in some sort of recap and they weren’t able to get past the performance
or was it really feeling like this. I’m gonna call it
the broke lady cology that you created because you created
an environment that was role played six years whether it’s in multiple steps
before during after it’s rehearsed. So and I actually,
that’s really important because it sort of reflection is a way of knowing that
histimology, that a person’s nature what you’re asking them to do is
also something that you tapped into. But is not explicit in your, you know
the way that you talk about it, so I was wondering if you can
you say more about that?>>Sure, so I think that anyone how’s used
role play with students has seen that there are some who dive right into it and really welcome the opportunity to engage
in a classroom activity that’s much different than the traditional
lecture format. And others who really struggle with it, it’s just really not what
they felt comfortable doing. And so that was you know that
was a struggle with these role play on as much as any. And so I do think that to
answer your first question, that there was students who it was
harder to tell while they were in the act of role playing If they were
making those kinds of deeper connections. If they were really understanding and part just because they weren’t
saying much of anything. So they tended to be more reserved and
it was necessary to be able to hear from them to
try to identify those things. I did find some students who wrote
about it in ways that were quite surprising that wrote about
the benefits and even wrote explicitly that they went into thinking it
wasn’t going to be very beneficial, they don’t really like role play
it’s really a challenge for them to engage in that kind of activity. I did see some evidence of that. So I wanted to just
understand better before I respond what in thinking about what occurs in nature sure of the activities. Are you just looking for me to talk
a little bit more about how that strengthened the role player and
how students may have interacted in ways where they changed over the course of
the role playings or is it something else?>>Yeah,
again I think it’s pretty impactful, and ecology of a way to do a role play. But it is a very sort of recursive process
in this particular sort of framework. It’s something that is a real commitment
in the same way that assigning a research paper with multiple drafts and
scaffolding is a big commitment. Or maybe in your experience you’re feeling
like the personal nature was not as impactful but it struck in reading it and
listening to you talking about it that there really this process of coming
back around and that experiencing doing reflecting, experience doing
reflecting can really adds to that. I don’t know,
I’m curious on your thoughts.>>Yeah, it is a big commitment and
you discussed that in the dislocation and I think that one thing that I try to make
clear is that I think this is a good process if an objective of the role
playing is to cultivate empathy. If what you’re trying to accomplish
as an instructor by using this is to get students to better understand not
just what’s going on with the complex but really understanding the characters
the parties involved are experiencing. So yeah, in that sense it’s
different then if the idea is to give students
practice with mediation or actually practice resolution tools. So that is not quite as important
to have these recursive processes, to have extensive reflection. It’s really an opportunity and
it depends on and do something if it’s a good dialogue or
something. So yeah, I think that I didn’t
see this as a process and I discuss this a little
bit in the presentation, where many students wrote about
the journaling exercise for example as kind of their first
touch with the character. Their first time to really start
thinking about who is this person and what would their life be like and
how is it different are similar to mine. And so really kind of at first
thinking about what might the. And then having a conversation with
other students where they compare well, what did you come up with? What do you like? And the different parts, and then having
the opportunity to reflect on that. Have everyone reflect on that and
then the potential to make changes, makes it definitely a reflective process. And one time in the design, did change in spite what I said a few
times because we found things that. Both from the students themselves. The other part is I mentioned briefly is
just the discussion about role play itself with the students. And really invest them in the process so
that this makes this work. What are the challenges
that you encounter. And you know It’s really,
this is your roleplay, how can we do this together in
a way that works for you and that you get something out of it, and
you get an educational benefit from it?>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome. Thank you.>>Would you like to ask Laura another
question or should I move on to someone.>>I think I have taken
up plenty of space for->>[LAUGH] All right.>>So let me pass it off to you.>>Okay, can I be heard if I just speak? Or.
>>I can hear you.>>Yeah. I’ve got
>>I’m sure we can hear you. And Susan will let me know if.>>Okay. All right. All right. Great.
Well, I just wanted to say that this dissertation
was a delight to read. It was very well written and was situated in a literature
way that was very satisfying. Because I think we often talk about
issues like this in the field. But the way in which you focused,
laser-focused on the specific conceptual challenge of understand
empathy was very satisfying and I thought you did a good job. At one point I like a line where
you say that if we’re going to use these concepts in the field we
ought to rigorously understand them and define them well and I think you do
a good job in that sense it’s a very. Useful dissertation just in that respect. I think I’ve got to touch on a couple
questions related to right where Kim was heading and maybe we’ll get into some
of the similar challenges of working, of doing this kind of work,
which I think does in the end, I mean, the value of this dissertation,
where it probably will outlive it’s current purpose,
which is to get you to your next stage. Is in the way that it can be used
especially in the conclusion where you suggest, and it’s in page 140, this specific suggestions you would
have in generating any role play. That there are things that you learn
in going through this exercise which. Even if you didn’t use these
two exercises you used, if you created your own you’d be
better off than you otherwise would. And there’s a good reason, I think, to
think about how it is we use these kinds of role plays in our, especially our
undergraduate classrooms, and so on. So that’s something I wanted to say in the
beginning because it’s very helpful and I think would helped me, I’ve done some of this work myself and
I think it would help me to think about those kind of things that I wanted to
make sure to bring into my own pedagogy. But in order to be fully convinced,
I want to ask a couple of questions. And the first, how do I do it? I’ve got five questions, I’ll just try
to get into these in the right order. So the first is about the concept itself. So I loved what you did theoretically, I liked the lip review,
I liked that it’s old it’s current. So how did you,
because you say you don’t have sort of, you don’t have this microscope
to get into the brain so. But how is it that you
knew it when you saw it, when this deeper
understanding was happening? I think what’s missing, and maybe this is
something, this is what we talked about, what needs to be added. It seems that we need some sort of
an example of the measurement itself, and I think you’ve got a couple cases,
but I’d like to get a sense, of a deeper sense of what it is,
I caught content validation. Like here’s an example
of empathy happening. And here’s a different example
of empathy happening and then maybe target a specific data sources
like here’s a transcript from an audio. There’s something on it and I think that
would add because then you could say Especially if we’re going through and
trying to discover if we’re generating three in our own students then
we’d be more attentive to it. So I don’t know maybe I guess it’s in the
form of a question but how did you know, I think you’ve said something like
this but what was the best way for you to know empathy was happening, and does it vary by the data source in any
way, and what were the tell tale signs.>>It definitely does
vary by the data source. So it was potentially much easier to
find in the written sources data. Particularly in the reflection papers
because that was an opportunity for students to really to write more
extensively when you involve their experience. And you know they were able to kind
of tell a story about the experience of the person studying the role play
through those reflection papers. To a lesser extent but it would really came out in quite a bit in the post test question that I mentioned about what was
most compelling to you about this role. So students wrote about some of
the elements that I talked about, narrative and performance, but in a way
that I really felt a connection with my character, or I felt like I was stepping
into that character when I did I did this. So, it was much easier
to detect those things through the use of language and
those written sources. And much more challenging to do so
with the [INAUDIBLE]. Less so with the observations,
to some extent. I can talk more about that in a moment,
what I was looking for. But certainly with
the audio recordings and video recordings where
it’s after the fact, and I was, quite frankly, in an area
that I’m not that familiar with. I was trying to learn what kinds
of things should I be looking for and picking up on in terms of facial
expressions and body language and different types of use of language and
changes in voice. And that certainly did
present a challenge. So I still tended to stick with looking
for things that I really understood. Which were pieces of language. But also. Again in that scenario often
what I noticed is that when students had that,
we’ll call it potential empathy or maybe beginning to develop
empathy with their characters. Obviously they cared more about what
was happening in the role play and they cared more about how people
were portraying their character and that often came through earnestness, display of emotion, a real,
a sense that this matters. That this is something that’s important
and it was really helpful that we had. But it had both the actual role play
itself the simulated meetings followed by the debriefings because frequently
students would refer to those moments in the debriefing, and so I could connect
that yeah if that was something I noticed. And then I’d say I got really
upset when someone questioned me about why I’m supporting this. And you know, and I talk a little about
this in my dissertation about the shifts, a student was halfheartedly playing the
role in the beginning,and then something happened and they really stuck
to that character more fully. I was in the classroom
when that happened for theory as in watching
this video reporting. I watch that and kind view for a thing. Does not properly pick up and
it needs a couple of confirmation.>>Okay great. That is helpful. So in any sense you really developed
the sense of when empathy was happening, and this evolved with you as you went
through the process, sounds like. So in terms of the design question and
I would say this. And this is maybe killing
to where Kim was going too. How would you know if
If things didn’t work. Let me back up, is it is the theory that
you have in place seems to be that it contributes also to narrative theory
because, and you’re right about this and you cite Sarah Cobb’s work as well,
that certain kinds of narrative activities have a tendency to lead
to empathy cultivation. Is that a fair representation of
the theory that’s implicit here? These kinds of narrative activities that you engage in as a design of the role
play lead to that empathy cultivation.>>Yeah, I think that’s fair. I’ve most carefully studied
the journaling exercise. The writing of a character,
a story or a biography of a person, and the literature around
that is used to [INAUDIBLE].>>I think that’s
something to keep in mind. What’s really interesting about this, is
how it digs into the role of narrative and the role of place but for example,
here’s something like this. If I were to try to design one of these, create characters capable of constructive
engagement, this is on page 186. You say that that would
be a good practice. And you suggest also that maybe there
are the danger of stereotyping, and maybe you don’t want characters
who are stereotypical and that that actually might
lead to negative outcomes. But how would you not, for example, did you have any cases where people were
engaging in stereotypical behavior or you had really stock characters,
and then they didn’t empathy? Whereas in those where you allowed for this more constructive character and
there was more likely? Was there any opportunity for
that kind of differential observation?>>There were experiences, there were
times when students engaged in what would be considered stereotypical behavior
portraying their character as a character. One example of a view is there was one
group and I think, guided by one student but then the rest of the group went along
with it, where they all decided to use accents that they imagined would be
accents used by people in this community. It happened in that class, there was
someone who was from the region, and heard the other students
using the accents and talked to me after class
about what had happened. Actually, I think even before class I
did because we had about two minutes and I had to quickly decide, should I address
this now, how should we handle this? We ended up addressing it
in the next class session. It’s interesting because in their minds,
they were trying to understand their characters, and
they weren’t doing it, in talking to them, because they were trying to offend anyone
or because they thought it was funny. They really thought it this
would help us get into our characters to understand that. Of course, there was nothing in the
description that said how the characters speak, there was nothing that
led them in that direction. Really what that taught me is that yes,
it’s important to have a description of a character and what I meant by the
capability of engaging constructively is that they have these relationships
with multiple sides of the conflict. It wasn’t possible to say this
person clearly is only opposed to mountaintop mining because their whole
interest is in keeping the mines open. Most people have family members and
connections in other places. Even developing that though,
it doesn’t prevent or forbid students from engaging in a way that’s potentially
damaging, that’s reinforcing stereotypes. I think that the best way
to address that is just to, in the role play assigned, to really
think about where is the possibility for this to occur given this conflict. What kinds of things might students do, even well intentioned,
that could reinforce stereotypes and how can we engage in discussion about that
ahead of time to try to head that off.>>Great. This is more of a comment more than
a question but I notice reading and I see it in your presentation,
that your project begs for multimedia forms of representation. I think this is something you should think
about is, and if we continue to move this line of research forward is, we need
examples, I think even iMovie examples, of empathy happening and
empathy not happening. And here’s a technique where we’re
using this narrative technique or this narrative activity which helps
prepare, even as a training manuel and you see what the outcome is. I can imagine very simple, this is beyond
the scope of the dissertation, I think. But it is an interesting thing to think
about because what I think what you’re trying to convey, as Kim suggested, is
this issue of psychology of role-playing which I think would really help us to
do our instruction in a better way. And yet, reading about it wasn’t enough,
I felt like, in a way, it was difficult
to get what you were saying. In part, because you didn’t have
this long textual examination of like a content validation exercise where
you drill down, and by the end of it, I knew exactly what you meant by
empathy and when it was happening. I think that probably, even you did in
your presentation, it’s much quicker to get there with images and with other
sorts of narrative techniques, frankly. I think that’s important to think
about as we move this forward so that it’s useful pedagogically. Finally, the last question and I think it’s related to this
question of the stereotyping. I’m wondering if the people who used
accents were less likely to actually cultivate empathy with their characters,
so that’s a claim you could make. Or if that they led to
damaging interpretations that you thought weren’t helpful
to learning, or generally. The question then is, the so what
question, which I think is always helpful to ask, does this empathetic connection
lead to better learning outcomes? For example, do we know that students who
empathize and connect with a character come up with better integrated solutions
or become better conflict resolvers? Or is it possible that people who have a
rational disconnected analysis, or realist if you will, looking at a situation comes
up with a better integrated solution? Does your study help us to understand
that question of the so what, does empathy really matter in
the end to what we are trying to do?>>I think first on the question
of better learning outcomes, which I see this as two
separate potential outcomes. One is learning the material, learning about the conflict but
then there’s the question, and this is something that I do feel strongly
about is, does it prepare students better to analyze the result conflicts
to engage in the field? With regard to learning,
there I did through my literature review, find literature on a couple different concepts that address that and
really the idea is around the difficulty of achieving something in
the course of learning. I think that this is something
that I really found through all of the observations and reviewing the data,
that this is a challenging thing to do. It’s challenging to participate
in a global plight but empathy, cultivating empathy, really trying to understand what another
person was experiencing is a challenge. There definitely is data that
supports that That engaging in that difficulty improves learning, improves retention in particular
of the concepts that are studied. I think that although, so
I think my answer’s the next question. Some of that is beyond
the scope of what I’ve studied. So I don’t want to make
claims that I can’t support. But I had conversations every
semester with the students about how this is a challenge and
why it matters in the context of appeal. And I would argue that
it is important too that we are dealing with real
human beings in the field. And so it is important even though
we will not always succeed in understanding what someone else is
experiencing to attempt to do so. And I think that we do that for
many methods of analysis and particularly some of the practices that
I discussed, resolution practices. So engaging in dialogue,
engaging in problem solving workshops. And those require that we go
beyond just analysis of something complex that has the pieces and
how they connect without really thinking about the people involved
on what’s motivating them and what their narratives are, and
trying to understand those, so that we have the full
picture of the conflict. So I think that, I think that yes it
doesn’t to better outcomes both for our students in the classroom and I think that I can say with more
certainty based on my research. But also, I think that in
order to do what we do better that having that understanding
that goes beyond just an understanding of
the issues is important.>>Thank you Susan,
I think we can move on to your questions.>>Great, can you hear me?>>Yes.>>Great, thanks Gina very much for your presentation and for
all work that you’ve done on this dissertation and
on pedagogy in general. [INAUDIBLE] really good questions about methodology and the exclusiveness of some aspects
of methodology in the dissertation. And I wanna just pick up
on one thing that Kim said in kind of framing it as
an ecology around role play. I really appreciated that,
I thought that was very deep. A very good observation and
that their whole set of activities. I wonder if you could
just talk about the role play piece of it, within that ecology, and tell us a little bit about what’s
kind of special about that piece? And I’m gonna kind of
give you the answer too.>>[LAUGH] And that performance piece,
the physicality of it. Can you say just a little more about what
that might mean for the conflict field? Because when you look at the whole
apparatus that’s required to make this thing really work you might just say,
you know it’s too much. It’s too risky to do role play. Maybe we shouldn’t do. Is there something there in
the embodiment for the physicality. And I think that particularly
point to that and want to hear from you on it,
because that was kind of uncharted terrain,
in terms of the conflict feel, and your need to really do
some theory building. I gave into performance literatures. So, I’ll just stop there and open for you to say some things about
that aspect of roleplaying. It’s not for the younger activities.>>Right, thank you, Susan. So, what came to mind is you were
asking that question is something that one student wrote and I think it
was in response to a post test question, and that was about the difference it
made when he was sitting in a meeting with these other students who were
representing his parties in the conflict. And he had to basically look
at the person that he was saying I think we might need to
look at closing this mine down. There’s a, do I need to be louder? Okay, because there are all
kinds of indications that it’s not safe and that there are
problems and waters contaminated and but what really struck me was that sense
of being not just writing about this. Not even discussing with
classmates as students but feeling like I have to sit across
the table from this person and face them in and discuss this with them. So I think there’s really,
there is something that really goes beyond kind of all of the other parts of
the role play as you were discussing. All the preparation work that
we do which is valuable, but there’s something different
about actually performing it. And this is something that we discussed along the way, many times and
there were different ways. Frankly, different instructors approached
it somewhat differently, and so it was interesting to see how some would
pass out buttons and really encourage. And one thing that I was looking out
to what extent students actually embody individuals. Were they portraying, were they performing
them were they actually becoming to the extent that one can the people
that they were portraying. And so we have another role play,
there was another role play developed on the same project for example that
may [INAUDIBLE] UN meeting, and students were encouraged to dress
as they went for the UN meeting. So there’s that kind of thing that
one can do to really give students that stronger sense of you
are not anymore student. You are present here in time,
in this place. In this constructed space is other person. So one thing that we did for this, these role play activities to try to
create that in addition to some folks had buttons or wore t-shirts or
dressed in a particular way. But, we took students outside
the classroom prior to beginning the simulated community meeting is
what I call it in my dissertation too, to distinguish it from the entire
role play, and took them through a visioning activity that started
with their getting ready to leave home. We decided these meetings were in
the evening, they’re out of school. So they’re leaving home thinking
about who are you saying goodbye to? What are you driving? What are you really thinking? You are now this person and
beyond that, just the personal things. Who are you looking forward to seeing? Who do you think is your ally? Who will be Be with you [INAUDIBLE]
be there who’s going to oppose you. How are you going to handle that? Starting internally, but then thinking relationally about
what that experience is going to be. I read a little bit about that in
the dissertation in terms of really, fully embodying the character for
that period of time and then kind of shaking off
the character through the debriefing. A little bit of like physical shaking off, even getting up and
moving around a little bit. But then having an opportunity
to step back out of that because anyone who’s done role play, participated
in or served as an instructor, has seen those students who can have
challenges pulling out of that. In some ways,
that’s really a great sign that they are fully engaged in the role play but
they need that space too as a learning activity
to be able to step out of that and reflect and prepare for
whatever comes next. Those are some of the really
clear indicators I saw of performance and its use in the role plays. Does that get you what you’re looking for?>>Yeah. A second question. You wear multiple hats,
particularly in those moments of research when you
were an instructor and also as you began to interpret
your data along the way. Can you talk about the challenges
of doing that kind of research, where you’re embedded in it,
wearing multiple hats and mention too but
you also came to have views I think about the conflict that was
represented in these role plays. Perhaps, you had a sense of your
role also as a kind of practitioner, or an advocate, or
something in relation to it. If you could just speak
about the challenges and whether you thought it is
a limitation of the study, or if this kind of embedded
research on pedagogy is a positive way to go about it?>>Thank you. Yeah, in addition to teaching the courses, I also took a group of
students to West Virginia in summer of gosh, 2012,
2013, something like that. I made a few trips to
West Virginia with Susan, too, to meet some of the parties of
the conflict and I alluded to my knowledge of the conflict and that the parties
involved and their interests. And much of that came from research
through secondary sources, but also through first hand accounts from some
of the parties involved in the conflict. As Susan said, I was involved through
my role as an instructor, through my role as a member of the undergraduate
experiential learning project, and through some of my practice work was
very much embedded in this research. What are the challenges in that? I think one of the clearest
challenges is that it’s more difficult to maintain to the extent
possible, some sort of an outsider view. I was part of what was going on. I think what was helpful in addressing
some of the difficulties that came with that or just really try
to counter that a little bit, to try to not necessarily step outside
of it, which I don’t think is possible. But to hear different perspectives
was some of the engaging with some of the other members on the experiential
learning project, to some extent, because there was a lot of reflecting on what was
happening in front other instructors. I think having that discussion with other
instructors who were using the role play, and I will say that not all
instructors who used the role play were thought of as the best thing. Some wanted to make changes to it. There were discussions with those who were
skeptics, who were critics that I think helped me to see here’s how someone who’s
not embedded in all of this is seeing it. Here are some of the challenges that
they’re having with using it in their classrooms and
helped to address some of that. With regard to my position,
I guess, on the conflict. Yeah, as I learned more about it,
as I visited the areas, I met people and
had conversations with them. I not only learned more about it but I did develop a stronger view
about what is going on here, where do I fit in all of this,
how am I situated? I definitely found myself
feeling quite sympathetic with those who were clearly
struggling as a result of some of the decisions that had been
made by large mining companies. I realized that, like many conflicts,
this conflict would not be resolved simply by supporting those
who were struggling and trying to alienate those
who were providing jobs. There were many other
things embedded in this. [COUGH] Culture and tradition,
identity, like many of these conflicts, it was complex. I think that while I certainly was
not without an opinion about what was happening, and
what might make things better, I realized the necessity of engaging
all the parties in the conflict. And the necessity of the students that
they were going to really understand that, that they needed to really understand
the nuance of this within the conflict. That it wasn’t as simple as
the mining executives are greedy and don’t care about anyone and
those who are working in the mines are suffering and are victims. I hope that the way that the role play
was written described the conflict in a way that highlighted
some of that complexity. I’ve said in my dissertation many times,
created these multidimensional characters that go beyond what we
often hear when we do hear and think about this conflict in the news
which is a little bit more simple.>>Yeah, thanks. I think I’ll stop there because I know
we’re running a little bit long and give the audience the chance,
if they have some questions. Thank you.>>Thanks, Susan. Now we have still a little bit of time for
questions from the audience.>>[INAUDIBLE] Great presentation. Not that I’m biased.>>[LAUGH]
>>One What if I had [COUGH], this was part of the give me LP, the
undergraduate experience learning project, which was a multifaceted project. Part of which, involved service learning. You and I led a class to West Virginia. Took students to Charleston to
do a service learning project that was a very reflective project, a very oriented around mode of practice,
but really not narrative in nature. So I wonder if you had
any thoughts about using preparation more like this, you know,
everything cultivation as preparations for going in to a community service funding,
and in particular, whether you think that there’s a risk what
might be termed empathetic overreach. Where students could end up thinking that
they know more than they really do about a conflict having cultivated some empathy
with characters as they understand them, that then could cause. Friction, or challenges when
actually going into a community and meeting people in real life.>>Thank you. So first I guess I would say that. While we were in the field
that’s It’s true that it was much more reflective a narrative. I think that there was, extensive
preparation, though, about two weeks of preparation, and certainly there was
narrative engagement that was par of that. Nourishment, and just watching
the video clips and, we would, check the students for part of that time, and we were in
a job corps center in Charleston so, we watched some videos of students in,
in a job corps center and, reading about the [INAUDIBLE] conflict and
that sort of thing, but, yeah. I mean, I think that,
to answer the question, is that kind of preparation useful for
students who are going into the field? Yeah, absolutely, I think so, and I think it has been used with
other surface learning programs. The question about. Apathetic overreach. Yeah, I think that’s always a concern, and I think the way that I have
addressed that in my conceptualization is this idea of empathy being dynamic and
sometimes fleeting. I think the way that I express it somewhere in my dissertation that
it’s It’s a really bold thing to imagine that we know
the experience of another person. So it’s not something that should be taken
lightly, and I think that’s one of my concerns that I move to at the end of
my dissertation, that there’s a lot, I mean in pop culture [INAUDIBLE] and
you know this is. Of course, writing a dissertation now,
I’m hearing empathy everywhere, but I do feel like there’s
a lot of ideas for how empathy can be used to do all sorts
of things, and I’m not sure all of them have value or that there aren’t
potential damaging elements. To those, and so I think that’s part
of what you were getting at is that thinking that one understands another
person, when really, you’re way off base, and potentially, the thinking part is,
that may or may not be damaging, but the then acting based upon, and that
thinking could potentially be damaging. If that person is not habitizing, but maybe they’re trying and
they’re really off-base, and there could be potential action,
so part of that, I guess, depends on power too, or really, they have kind of understood,
but we’re not really using it for a useful purpose, or
a purpose that’s not harmful.>>First of all, thank you so
much for this awesome presentation. I personally think that empathy
deserves a lot more attention in our field than it gets. I have two questions for you. The first one picks up on Susan’s prompt
about performance being one of the two key elements that you discovered as
having a significant effect in this. Alongside Narrative,
preparatory activities, and so I have a twin brother
who is in the theatre. A playwright, he’s a theater director, and
one of his areas of expertise happens to be [INAUDIBLE], and theater in the press,
which you mentioned in passing, and so, he and I engage in a lot of conversations
about the value of, this kind of stuff in competition, and so I think it’s interesting to compare a professional
actor when they take on a role. They come with a certain
expertise in perspective taking. That involves everything from working text
embodiment that really gets them deep into character, but even in addition to
all of that they always do their homework. A lot of them interviewing people who or
whatever. I, on the way over here was listening
to an interview with Eisenberg. So there’s the famous question. What’s my motivation? You know people who pose for
a director in a scene. I guess I see some of the narrative
preparation you doing in that light sort of giving these unprofessional folks as
you will a background for cultivating, and embodying the character for [INAUDIBLE]
are mentioned power the embodiment, but I wonder, if you had not done all
of that narrative prep work to get them sort of into character and
tell them what’s their motivation, would the performative aspects
have had the effect by themselves? That they did a combination, and if
there’s any way to discern that from your research, or if that’s gonna be something
that needs to be decoupled later. So that’s my first question, and then the
second one is just a little more brief, but I thought the conceptual
differentiation between dispositional and situational empathy was
really interesting. Especially when I was an undergrad in
psychology we talked a lot about traits versus states, and so I just wonder
if there’s any way to know whether or not this kind of activity
could have any lasting, a lasting effect on a person’s, sort of,
I don’t want to say reservoir or trait apologies [INAUDIBLE],
or they mean their ability or willingness to try to become more
empathic in situations may vary. If you have any that. I don’t know if that’s really
discernible from your data, but if you have any thoughts about that.>>Sure. I’m actually gonna answer your
last question first because I’ve got it in my mind right now. So I want to make sure I
get to it before I forget. So although I. I was not, my question was not about in
the theme, objective of the activity was not to increase depositional I mentioned
with the questions on the pre-test, and post test and there was some
questions in the additional pre-test [INAUDIBLE] that address
[INAUDIBLE] Dispositional empathy. And so I did look at those,
despite the fact that it didn’t help me to answer my question, but
wanted to see did this have any effect? And actually, in most class sessions. There was a slight increase, based on the
test, which was a standard empathy test, a standard test of dispositional empathy,
so asking such questions as, if you’re trying to How easy do you find
it to understand what another person is feeling and that sort of thing,
I think there were about 15 questions. I don’t feel like based on that
amount of information that pursued that further because it
didn’t fit with my research question. That I can say with any certainty
that these types of activities do increase dispositional empathy or that wasn’t reflecting a situational
empathy, but that that was a place where students could reflect that and
that was the way it was translated. It’s just impossible for me to know
that without further research but I was surprised by that and
I think that it would be interesting to know more about whether
that really has changed. Part of that is the way that
that gets conceptualized. Do we really think that students’
ability to empathize broadly increases as a result of participating
in an activity like this or do we think that if that’s the test
they’re given that’s how it comes out because they don’t have another way of
reflecting the change that occurred. To answer your first question, I think that the answer is implicit
in the question in that, because I didn’t create an experiment
where I decouple those and try them separately and
I think it’s a little bit of a reach for me to say whether or not that’s true. What I can say, whether or
not if they just jumped into performance without the narrative
activities if we’d have the same results. I will say that many students and there’s
more about this in the dissertation, mentioned the narrative activities
as a way, of linked to performance. This was a first step,
was writing this character, and it really helped me when I
was performing my character, that kind of language reflecting
that process of a two step. I think that also probably
varies from person to person. As we were talking about a few
moments ago, some students, some actually have some experience
with acting with theater. Some are very comfortable and really
are much more prepared to jump right in. I think in that kind of study, I would expect to find some variation
depending on the student’s background and their preparation and
their ability to prepare on their own. I think this assumes you’re not an actor,
this isn’t something you do professionally and so
some preparation would be very useful. I guess the other thing is that it’s not just preparation in terms of they’re learning about
who their character is, and as she said,
what’s their character’s motivation. But also,
there is within some of that narrative is developing the preparation relationally
as they meet with other students. It’s not something that I explicitly
study [INAUDIBLE] in that as well.>>Mindful that we’re very short on time,
and the committee still needs
to do its trial before, so maybe we can take one more question and
then if that’s because I don’t do.>>I have two, I’ll choose one. Do you think the approach that you’re
using here to cultivate empathy using role play in an associated ecosystem
goes along with them could be used effectively outside the classroom or
a university setting? Say, at a not so large federal agency
focused on environment issues, let’s say and what would you do
differently outside of the classroom and what would you expect in terms
of differences or similarities?>>For those of you who don’t know,
Will is my colleague at the EPA. We both worked in
the EPA’s Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center, so
that’s what I do now. One of the things I’ve been doing since
I arrived there, in like January, is working with another colleague
on conflict resolution and training for EPA employees. We had requests on a regular basis to come
into the EPA offices and the conversation recently has been that a lot of the
training has been negotiation training. Partly, what we’ve been discussing is
what are the other possibilities and also everyone says, and
[INAUDIBLE] will not find this surprising because I think
we hear it from students too. But EPA employees also said we
want to have more practice. Another discussion has been how can we use
them there, how can I know simulations and role plays has been used already in some
of the training but nothing so extensive. This gets to the discussion
a few minutes ago about what do you say if in looking at this,
someone who might use it says, this just seems like it’s way too much
of a commitment of time and resources. To answer your question,
yes, I definitely think it can be used outside the classroom,
I think in an organizational setting, it would have to be adapted to meet
the needs of that organization. I think very few people who work
in a federal agency can take three weeks of meeting for a couple
of hours at a time to engage in this. That’s something I’ve been thinking
about lately and that really centers on, in that setting, what are the key
parts of this that can’t be abandoned, that shouldn’t be abandoned where it
won’t have even a similar effect? How can we adapt it for an audience like
that, that’s really short on time but really does want the opportunity to
practice the skills they’re learning? I think the other thing with this,
we talked about how the idea here was to create an experience where
those who are participating in the role play felt as if they
were part of this community. I think that when what
a group is looking for is really to feel like they’re
getting practice doing something. It would need to be adopted
a little bit in that way too, I think it’s harder to make the argument
that you’re actually learning something by experiencing this as
a member of the community. I think they’d have to be a little bit
more explicit and probably change so that they’re getting
a chance to facilitate or do something that feels like
they’re learning a skill.>>Thank you very much. Thank you so much, Tina. I wish we had more time for
a Q&A because I think there are so many more questions out there. I wanted to thank everybody for coming up. The next phase is the committee
needs to discuss. Because of the technical

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