Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dorsch, Nina G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Reading (Elementary)--Illinois


With accountability in reading on the forefront of education, it is essential that educators focus on staff development experiences that impact and improve reading instruction for beginning readers. The purpose of this study was to examine teachers’ perceptions of and instructional practices related to the beginning reading process prior to and following an empathy staff development experience in which teachers recalled and related to the beginning reading process and the frustrations of learning to read. The study used six core components of empathy and four best practices in reading as the foundation for the data collection and analysis. The six components of empathy include: reaction, reflection, perspective-taking, personal distress, empathetic concern, and productive perspective-taking. The four best practices in reading instruction include the use of: instructional level reading materials, threepart reading lessons, small group instruction, and ongoing assessment. This mixed-methods study focused on a group of 52 teachers in one school district. Eligible teachers included K-3 teachers and Reading Specialists who have been in the school district for at least two years. This population was selected because the teachers at this level instruct beginning readers. Third grade teachers were included since the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT) is administered at this grade level. The teachers were all from the same district in order to account for consistent curriculum and staff development opportunities. The participants completed pre- and post-surveys and an empathy experience in reading. Forced-choice and open-ended response data were collected on the presurvey to gain insight into teachers’ perceptions of the beginning reading process and levels of use of best practices in reading instruction. Parallel post-survey data were collected following an empathy experience to analyze shifts in perceptions regarding best practices in reading instruction and empathy experiences. The quantitative findings indicated significant shifts in personal distress and productive perspective-taking experiences, as well as an increase in the use of small group reading instruction. The qualitative findings corroborated shifts in the use of small group instruction and experiences of personal distress. These findings indicate that empathy staff development can enhance components leading to productive perspective-taking that can impact reading instruction.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [204]-215).


xii, 273 pages




Northern Illinois University

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