Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art Education


Art Education

First Advisor

Sara Wilson McKay


This study constructs a theoretical framework for exploring the relationship between art education practice and the development of empathy in early childhood. In this study, I construct a schema for the experience of empathy in kindergarten-aged students, derived from the work of Martin Hoffman, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Vittorio Gallese, which acknowledges both the affective and cognitive dimensions of the experience of empathy. This schema is examined within the context of aesthetic and artistic experience, as distinguished from each other by John Dewey. I articulate several ways that art education’s cultivation of subtle aesthetic perception may encourage affective empathy, and its cultivation of imaginative cognition may encourage cognitive empathy. Suggestions are made for projects and practice in the early childhood classroom.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2013

Included in

Art Education Commons