There is little research on student-teachers’ attitudes and contact with students with disabilities, and even fewer researchers have investigated student-teachers’ empathy. This study investigated the association between student-teachers’ contact with students with disabilities and their attitudes toward students with disabilities as well as the association between student-teachers’ attitudes toward students with disabilities and their level of empathy. Student-teachers’ contact with students with disabilities was not associated with their attitudes toward students with disabilities. However, higher student-teacher empathy was associated with attitudes that were more positive toward students with disabilities. While most educators would agree that future teachers should be exposed to as many diverse students as possible, this study points to an interpersonal quality that may play a more vital role in shaping future teachers’ attitudes toward students with disabilities. This affects how we prepare future teachers and highlights the need for empathy training for future teachers.
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This study received no specific financial support.
The author declare that there are no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.