Introduction: As one of the most important requirements for healthy communication, empathy is vital in a great many occupations. Various studies have investigated the importance and level of empathy in various occupation groups. One of the leading occupations requiring strong empathic skills is teaching. Teachers need empathy to create an effective learning environment, develop good communication with their students, and understand them well. The current study investigates the empathic skills of physical education teachers to evaluate various variables.

Methods: The research participants comprised 152 physical education teachers in Turkey, 39 women (25.7%) and 113 men (74.3%), who completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Descriptive statistical methods and the Kolmogorov Smirnov test were used to determine whether the data were normally distributed. The data were analysed using ranking t-test and correlation methods as well as descriptive statistical models (α=0.05). The total internal consistency coefficient of the scales, measured by Cronbach’s Alpha, was.56.

Results: Regarding the IRI scores for the physical education teachers, the highest mean score was for emphatic concern, followed by perspective taking and fantasy. Teaching duration was associated with higher empathic skill scores. Empathic skills were also positively correlated with higher educational level. Finally, the mean fantasy scores were statistically higher for participants who were not training a school team.

Discussion: Physical education courses contribute to the physiological, sociological, psychological, and moral development of students. For this reason, physical education and sports is a compulsory component of the education system from an early age all around the globe. This makes it essential that physical education teachers have appropriate characteristics that they exhibit in their teaching. In the first place, it is necessary to have healthy communication between the physical education teacher and students.

Limitations: The current study gathered data from one specific region in Turkey, from physical education teachers in the city of Kütahya. Consequently, the demographic data were evaluated only for statistically significant variables. Other variables that were not numerically equal, were not investigated.

Conclusions: Physical education teachers should adopt an empathic approach to teacher-student relationships. Educational institutions should organise activities to develop these empathic skills in teachers.

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Education, Theory and History of Education, Curriculum and Pedagogy, other, Social Pedagogy, Social Work