This paper offers a systematic review of the literature on the nature of empathy in educational research. This synthesis of the literature will reveal four salient themes that SoTL authors have used to understand the concept of empathy. The value of empathy, according to SoTL researchers, will also receive a summarized treatment in this paper. Findings from this first part of the paper promote more accurate interpretations and comparisons of publications about empathy. Relatedly, a less ambiguous definition of empathy allows researchers and practitioners to design more precise studies that attempt to measure empathy in tutors or students, and to implement more precise educational policies involving empathy. The second goal of this paper is to raise a sceptical challenge to advocates of empathy in teaching—this will be done by drawing from the disciplines of psychology and social neuroscience. This paper concludes with a sketch of some pedagogical implications for tertiary educators in light of the worry that was raised against empathy in teaching.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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