Energizing Learning with the Science of Emotion
Historically we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. The pedagogical world, however, is beginning to awaken to the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience. In this interactive presentation, Sarah Rose Cavanagh will argue that if you as an educator want to capture your students’ attention, enhance their motivation, harness their working memory, and bolster their long-term retention, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. To make this argument, she will bring to bear empirical evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience. She will also present results from a recently concluded research study evaluating whether providing students some tools from emotion regulation before a lesson benefits their short- and long-term learning. The presentation will conclude with practical examples of activities and assignments that capitalize on this research and can be implemented in your very next class.
Our young people are experiencing an alleged epidemic of mental health problems, especially of anxiety. To set them on a path toward resilience, students need to learn in environments that are both compassionate and challenging. For emotions like fear are not inevitable, hard-wired phenomena but rather malleable configurations of bodily and cognitive challenges that we can influence from within (changing how we interpret or make meaning) or from without (changing the situation we’re in). While we in higher education don’t have much control over the interpretations our students make we do have a fair amount of control over the policies and practices that shape our new student orientations, the spaces where they eat and breathe, and work, and most of all our classrooms.
If we build vibrant living and learning spaces where students feel that they belong, where they feel it is safe to take risks, where they are exposed to novel, sometimes uncomfortable ideas, where we model open, curious behaviors for them, and where they can strive to play, they will be more likely to make the sorts of mental attributions that are associated with resilience and mental well-being. We can do this by intentionally shaping our college communities with compassionate challenge in mind — creating learning environments characterized by safety, belongingness, openness to diverse opinions, and play.
Please join us on Friday, August 21, 2020 to explore the important link between learning and emotion.