Chem Ed-McElvain – Prof. Lama Jaber (Florida State University)

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1315 Seminar Hall
@ 3:30 pm

Prof. Lama Jaber

Title: Affect, empathy, and responsive teaching: Towards a more compassionate and dignity-affirming vision for science teaching and learning.


When learners sense that their cultural, experiential, emotional, and other sensemaking repertoires are not relevant to their science learning, they may come to perceive science as inaccessible to them. This, in turn, creates barriers to their engagement, barriers that are particularly consequential for students from historically underrepresented and marginalized populations in STEM fields. Therefore, there is a pressing need to design learning environments that welcome and leverage students’ varied experiences, emotions, and other varied funds of knowledge as resources for teaching and learning. My work aims to address this need by examining ways to cultivate teachers’ epistemic empathy—the capacity for tuning into and appreciating another’s intellectual and emotional experience within an epistemic activity—and exploring how such empathy can support teachers’ responsiveness to students’ experiences and contributions in the classroom. In this talk, I describe how I came to conceptualize epistemic empathy as a target for teacher learning and discuss the tensions that emerge within that work. My hope is to generate a discussion about the role of empathy in teacher education and how such empathy can be cultivated and channeled to promote a more strength-based, compassionate, and dignity-affirming vision for science teaching and learning.


Lama Jaber is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the School of Teacher Education and a core faculty in the FSU-Teach program. Before earning her doctorate in science education at Tufts University in 2014, Lama started her career as a middle and high school science teacher. Lama’s research examines learners’ disciplinary engagement in science, with particular attention to learners’ feelings and emotions within that engagement, both in face-to-face and online learning environments. She also studies how teachers promote learners’ engagement through responsive teaching practices and examines the role of teachers’ empathy in that process. Lama’s current research is funded by a National Science Foundation Early CAREER grant that has served as the main context for her recent work on epistemic empathy. Lama was awarded the 2021 Early Career Research Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

Hosts: Brie Bradshaw and Nicole Greco