Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Leila Christenbury


The purpose of this research study was to ascertain whether there is a relationship between teachers' cognitive role taking aspect of empathy and the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL); English, Reading scores of their students. A correlational research design using hierarchical multiple regression was used to look for this relationship. In order to control for what previous research has shown to contribute to student achievement, a teacher's years of experience, degree level, self-efficacy beliefs about managing classroom behavior and a teacher's expectations for her students were measured and placed into the regression equation. The empathy measure was taken from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index created by Mark H. Davis, Ph.D. The subscale measuring the cognitive role taking aspect of empathy was used in conjunction with the subscale on self-efficacy beliefs about managing classroom behavior from the Teacher Interpersonal Self-Efficacy instrument. The subscale on teacher expectations was created based on research by Jussim and Eccles (1992), Harris and Rosenthal (1985) and Gottfredson, Marciniak, Birdseye and Gottfredson (1995). The study attempted to see if the relationship was stronger based on the ethnicity and course level of the students. The results indicate that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected, so it is indicating that there is not a relationship. However, the results also indicated that the other teacher variables for which this study controlled were also not contributing to the variance in the test scores. These findings led to the conclusion that standardized tests, by their very nature, may possibly not be susceptible to teacher attributes or dispositions. Further, it was concluded that teachers may need to acknowledge that the SOL tests may be measuring a very small part of student achievement that, in many cases, can be considered learning to pass the tests. If education is supposed to prepare students to be educated citizens of a democracy, it is important to remember that classroom instruction must do more than focus on training students to pass standardized tests.


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Date of Submission

June 2008

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