Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)



First Advisor

Rachelle Kisst Hackett, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Anne Zeman, Ed.D

First Committee Member

Karen Sarafian, Ed.D


This study utilized a correlational research design to investigate the relationships that may exist between teacher empathy, attitudes, and levels of self-efficacy. In particular, the study was designed to (a) determine whether attitudes towards trauma-informed care mediated the relationship between teacher empathy and teacher self-efficacy related to classroom management and (b) uncover what teachers find most challenging in their efforts to support students experiencing trauma.

An online survey, completed by 146 American teachers, included items from three established measures: the Empathy Scale for Teachers (Wang et al., 2022); the Underlying Causes of Problem Behaviors and Symptoms subscale of the Attitudes Related to Trauma- Informed Care (ARTIC-35) (Baker et al., 2016); and the Classroom Management subscale of the Teacher Sense of Self-Efficacy scale (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001). Multiple regression was used to analyze the quantitative data and thematic analysis was used to uncover themes from responses to an open-ended item on the survey.

The following six themes emerged from the thematic analysis of descriptions provided by teachers of the biggest challenge they face in their efforts to support students experiencing trauma: The most common response involved difficulty recognizing and responding to trauma.

This study found higher levels of teacher empathy to be associated with more positiveteacher attitude towards trauma informed care, as measured by the underlying causes of problem behaviors and symptoms subscale of the ARTIC-35. Additionally, these positive attitudes (consistent with trauma-informed care) were associated with more efficacious feelings in teachers regarding their classroom management. The results indicate that attitude towards trauma-informed care serves as an indirect-only mediator to explain the impact of empathy on level of teacher self-efficacy related to classroom management. Although caution is urged when drawing causal conclusions from correlational studies, the results highlight the potential importance of cultivating teacher empathy so trauma-informed practices can flourish in creating positive, safe classroom environments that increase learning opportunities for all students while possibly reducing departures from the teaching profession.



Available for download on Thursday, December 11, 2025



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