Arts integrated historical empathy: Preservice teachers’ engagement with pluralistic lived experiences and efforts toward instructional application

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Arts integration, historical empathy, preservice teacher education, sociocultural history education


From a sociocultural perspective, historical empathy emphasizes the reconstruction of perspectives and experiences needed to understand historical figures’ actions and lived experiences. Yet, historical evidence that informs pluralistic lived experiences may often be lacking. Arts integration, which simultaneously draws upon artistic and disciplinary practices, may be a promising avenue for informing engagement in historical empathy by harnessing the humanizing power of art. This descriptive case study explored that possibility by examining Arts Integrated Historical Empathy’s (AIHE) capacity for informing preservice social studies teachers’ (PSTs) pluralistic engagement with historical figures’ lived experiences and their subsequent efforts toward instructional planning for the secondary classroom. Analysis of recorded discussions, work products, written reflections, interviews, and the PSTs’ instructional planning revealed that arts integration added a sense of realism to historical figures’ contextually specific circumstances, fostered reflexive connections to historical figures’ perspectives and affective responses, and promoted pluralistic engagement with historical figures’ socioculturally situated perspectives. Moreover, the creation process embedded in AIHE played a crucial role in promoting engagement and display of historical empathy. However, despite recognizing and reflecting on these affordances, the PSTs struggled to plan inquiries that balanced disciplinary and artistic priorities to take advantage of AIHE’s mutually reinforcing elements.


Funding for this publication was provided by the University of Arkansas Center for Children and Youth and the University of Arkansas Open Access Publishing Fund.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.