Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James Stronge

Committee Member

Christopher Gareis

Committee Member

Jennifer B Parish


Empathy is an important instructor variable that improves learning outcomes by creating a safe learning environment (Herbek & Yammarino, 1990). Advancements in virtual reality technology and 360-degree videography allow individuals to empathize with others through a perceptual illusion called embodiment (Bertrand et al., 2018). The purpose of this mixed-methods action research study was to explore the effect of virtual reality perspective taking (VRPT) on teachers’ cognitive empathy. Additional goals included examining how teachers’ beliefs about cognitive empathy impacted teacher-student interactions and teaching practices. Lastly, the study sought to understand teachers’ perceptions regarding the efficacy of VRPT as a viable, professional development tool. Measurement instruments included Interpersonal Reactivity Index survey, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group discussion. The analysis of data included coding methods as prescribed by Saldaña (2016). After taking the perspective of a student through VRPT, teachers improved their ability to empathize with students. VRPT also allowed teachers to reflect on elements of physicality and student engagement in the classroom. In terms of teaching practices, teachers were able to reflect on lesson pacing, teacher feedback, and lesson set-up. Concerning VRPT’s viability as a professional development tool, teachers valued the ability to look around freely, expressed desire for more content, and suggested ways to collaborate with other teachers. Thus, results support the use of VRPT to facilitate empathic educational practices. Limitations and implications of this research are discussed in the final chapter.




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