Disruptive students can be a big challenge for teachers in charge of a room full of 30 students. There isn’t always time to get to the bottom of student behavior and in a large class those students can derail learning for everyone. But what if there was a way to help kids stop acting out and show more empathy for classmates and teachers?
A group of Harvard education researchers have developed a virtual simulation for “walking in another person’s shoes” to help students relate to one another better. It’s part of a project called Social Aspects of Immersive Learning (SAIL) funded by the National Science Foundation. “The ability to accurately read people is really important to make compromises,” said Elisabeth Hahn, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Education in a recent edWeb webinar.
The technical term is “social perspective taking” and it means understanding another person by taking in their thoughts, feelings and motivations. Accurately reading another person requires both motivation and ability, qualities that Hahn and other researchers are discovering can be taught.
The benefits of reading others are well documented, Hahn said. Taking in social perspective helps people become less ego-centric, decreases use of stereotypes, increases perspectives of similarity, and diminishes social aggression. These effects could make a big impact on many classrooms where the success of the lesson can hinge on how well a teacher is able to interact with the students. “It becomes much easier to empathize and leads to benefits in relationships and ultimately educational outcomes for kids,” Hahn said.
In an effort to create an experience that will help build these types of positive relationships through Continue reading