Engage Emotions to Maximize Learning

Decorative: A profile of a human head with emotional factors written in head space -- motivation, self-esteem, empathy, decision-making, commitment, interpersonal awareness


A. "How Can I Engage the Emotions of My Students to Maximize Learning?" (video; 21.19 m) argues that, "to be effective in our teaching, we want to engage the emotions of our students," and so outlines practical "strategies that work for any class, face to face learning, online learning, blended learning"

B. Key Takeaways (examples and explications in the video)

1. "[P]roject enthusiasm and optimism."

2. "[C]ultivate the social aspect of learning."

  • "[F]oster a positive social ambience ...  encourage your students ... build rapport."
  • "Build in activities that encourage students to engage with each other and form that learning community."

3. "[E]ncourage goal setting."

  • "Don't set the goal to finish the final project by the end of the semester. But break that down into incremental steps."
  • "Little by little, students can see their success and build that optimism and that confidence in their ability to succeed in your class."

4. "[D]esign for control and value."

  • "[W]hen ... the student can take control over what he or she wants to do, what project is most interesting for that person, what topic, what angle ... [they're] going to enjoy it more, engage more deeply."
  • "When students can choose a topic of interest that is valuable to them, they see it's relevant ... to their academic and career goals or personal interests."

5. "[P]romote the growth mindset."

  • "[W]ork with [students] before a major assessment to develop strategies" to "encourage them that the brain is not fixed... with practice and exercise and rigor, we can increase our abilities."

6. "[W]ork to build self-efficacy in our students."

  • "Set high standards and show them, little by little, step by step, that they will succeed."
  • Use "[m]any low stakes assessments to give positive feedback on the progress that they are making."
  • "[Take] the time in class or online to praise and say, ... 'Look how far you've come.'"

7. "[A]cknowledge and address strong emotions."

  • "It can be uncomfortable. It's scary. Acknowledge that to your students."
  • "Let them see that you are human, too, and you don't have all the answers."
  • "Have at your fingertips some resources for additional support. But let them see that it hurts."

8. "[P]lan for potential hot moments in the classroom."

  • "[P]revent ... situations from escalating."
  • "At the beginning of a semester, or if you're approaching a topic that you know is somewhat controversial, take a few minutes and engage in a dialogue with your students about productive discourse."
  • "'How can we set some ground rules so that if we disagree with each other, it doesn't have to get personal? We can express our opinions. We can agree to disagree. We can consider other people's opinions as valuable without getting heated about it. And then, if a hot moment arises, just take a time out.'"
  • "Remind your students, '[H]ey, remember, we agreed. We set some ground rules. Let's cool things down.'"

9. "[T]ake advantage of the power of emotional appeal."

  • "[W]e [don't] manipulate our students, but let's acknowledge that emotional appeal works, and look for ways to design it into our classes."
  • "Maybe you refer to a crisis in the world with some media, some images, something to grip the emotions ... some way to move our emotions and our students' emotions, to capture their attention to engage their interest."

10. Be aware of "emotional contagion" and "affective crossover."

  • "If you can enthuse and bring that passion and inspire and project how much you love what you're teaching, your students will catch that."
  • "If you bring a pretty nasty mood, ... that's going to impact your students' moods as well."
  • "[I]f you have a bad apple in the group, you know, that apple can kind of poison the other apples around. So work to foster a positive attitude" -- especially in group projects.

11. "[P]lan fun and enjoyable activities."

  • Find "fun way[s] for students to engage with the content, to practice ... consider some ... game-like elements."
  • "Students can learn if they're not enjoying things, but it's painful, and it's stressful, and it's harder."
  • "When students are enjoying themselves, there is definitely a more positive sense and better learning."

12. Online: Reduce anxiety and fear and enhance confidence with clear organization.

  • Have "content ... laid out very carefully so that it's clear, it's easy to navigate ... [no] nasty surprise[s] to students."
  • "[C]onsider opening [a read-only version of] your [online] class a week early" because "students like to explore class content before the first day of class," and this "reduce[s] anxiety."
  • "[S]end a welcome message" and "[s]et [and maintain] a positive and welcoming and supportive tone."

12. Online: "[B]e present as an instructor."

  • "Clarify expectations. Give explanations. Answer questions."
  • "[G]ive direction and instruction to help your students feel more at ease and increase their confidence."
  • "Bring your personality into your online classes wherever you can. Maybe it's announcements. Maybe it's a short video. Maybe you have a biography that talks more about your personal life than about your professional accomplishments."
  • "Foster the learning community by encouraging interaction between students by praising, by asking additional questions."
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email