Effect of Emotions in Education: Literature survey

Emotion as described in Merriam Webster is the conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body. Furthermore, when we classify these strong feelings and experience, we get 30 different emotional state as per the research done by University of California, Berkeley.

These strong emotional state can further be classified into two main categories – positive and negative state. These emotion states as main reason for many actions we take in our day to day life. This can be as simple as like buying a coffee mug and as bigger of achievement like winning a lost race, emotion can even drive one to do various crimes, which he/she doesn’t really want to do.

Students life is full of roll coaster of these emotions and whether we accept it or not but these emotions drive their performance in studies. Kelly Trezise has rightly termed classrooms as an emotional settings. The decision students make during the classes are mostly driven by their emotional state. So if you see your student chatting on phone during the lecture, you can very much know that he driven by some emotion which is making the use of phone more interesting than the class. These emotions are key parameters for the student’s engagement during the class. However, educators and researchers tend to ignore this or neutralizes emotions.

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Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Yale Child Study Center conducted a research on 21,678 U.S. schools on 10 different emotions which mostly exist in students – happy, proud, cheerful, joyful, lively, sad, mad, miserable, afraid, scared, stressed and bored. They found out that these emotion states drive the majority of decisions that students take and which in turn results in their performance in the class. Just a side note from the research was that 75% of the students had reported negative emotion state during the classroom.

These emotions provide a barrier to students engagement in class and ultimately affect their test scores. Also, it is to be noted that in some cases these emotions effect differently to different student. For example, Anxiety (FEAR) is one important factor which helps us in identifying the engagement, however anxiety is also driven by attitude of students. For example, if a student is weak in History subject, initially he will have higher level of anxiety but with time, he will develop negative attitude towards the learning of subject and this will actually reduce the anxiety level. And so that person will be more calm during the online class and we will have false positive result in the space. (et al. Luck & Lipp, 2015).

The problem with the current learning is that we tend to base our argument on the assumption of neutral emotion for learners, which is simply unrealistic. Research examining student emotion tends measure the consequences for subject achievement or test performance, rather than learning itself. There are some schools and teachers who support students’ emotions and learning quite well, however, there has been less research done on education for teachers, or “best practice” to help inform decisions or policy.

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In this article, we certainly won’t talk about what should be done to minimize the negative effect of students (we will keep that for next future article), but on how important emotions are to understand the engagement of students. Based on the various research articles on emotional states of students, we have come across to a conclusion that one cannot simply ignore the emotional state of student as it has major affect in their engagement in the class. Emotion is the by-product of the incident that is happening in the student’s life. By analysing these emotions and measuring the engagement of students, we can perform a predictive analysis and determine the engagement of students in the class.

After the COVID-19, there is a boom in online education and the most challenging part is to understand the engagement level in the class. It is a bit easy for teachers to know if the students are engaged in the class by seeing their facial expressions and understand their emotional state. However, these are quite challenging in online education as many students usually go through the recorded video or usually switch off their camera. We will talk about the challenges and engagement level in online education in the next blog along with the interesting findings in the research headed by Prashant Dey.

Let us know what is your thought about this, if you want to know more about the research, you can shoot an email.

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