Social Empathy Education

Social Empathy Education

The UCFRC’s work on Social Empathy Education aims to develop and mainstream Social Empathy Education programmes in schools and in teacher education. The first phase of the project includes the development and evaluation of the Activating Social Empathy programme.

Activating Social Empathy

Activating Social Empathy is an interactive, student-focused, social and emotional learning programme, which was developed by Dr Ciara Boylan and Professor Pat Dolan in 2017 as a resource tool for post-primary schools. The aim of the programme is to improve empathy skills and foster positive peer relations among secondary school students. The activating social empathy programme is designed to form part of the Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme and, in line with these guidelines, sets out to help students “build life skills and develop a strong sense of connectedness to their school and to their community”. This short unit of learning aims to achieve these objectives by centring students’ learning and skill building around four key principles: Understanding Empathy, Practicing Empathy, Overcoming Barriers to Empathy, and Putting Empathy into Action.

The Activating Social Empathy programme is comprised of 12 individual sessions, with one session designed to be delivered during one weekly class. Teachers are guided to facilitate the programme through the use of a Teacher’s Manual, which provides all details and resources needed to run the programme with students. The programme draws on activities and educational resources used in other SEL and youth lead initiatives, including the Youth As Researchers programme.

A sample of the type of activities included in the Activating Social Empathy programme is available here‌. 

 

From September 2017 to May 2019, the Activating Social Empathy programme underwent a prolonged piloting and feasibility testing stage. Specifically, the programme was piloted in six schools from 2017-2018, with a further 12 schools piloting the programme during the 2018-2019 school term. From January 2020 to May 2020, the Activating Social Empathy programme will undergo a large-scale, formal evaluation. This evaluation is a joint initiative between the Child and Family Research Centre and the School of Education at NUI, Galway and will involve a randomised control trial design.

Students attending the Youth Empathy Day at the Child and Family Research Centre discuss their experience of the Activating Social Empathy programme in the video below.


 

Youth Empathy Day Highlights

Youth Empathy Day Highlights

 

 For more information about this evaluation process please contact: charlotte.silke@nuigalway.ie

 


Activating Social Empathy flyer