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Eventful Learning

Learner Emotions

Series:

Edited by Stephen M. Ritchie and Kenneth Tobin

A rich array of social and cultural theories constitutes a solid foundation that affords unique insights into teaching and learning science and learning to teach science. The approach moves beyond studies in which emotion, cognition, and context are often regarded as independent. Collaborative studies advance theory and resolve practical problems, such as enhancing learning by managing excess emotions and successfully regulating negative emotions. Multilevel studies address a range of timely issues, including emotional energy, discrete emotions, emotion regulation, and a host of issues that arose, such as managing negative emotions like frustration and anxiety, dealing with disruptive students, and regulating negative emotions such as frustration, embarrassment, disgust, shame, and anger. A significant outcome is that teachers can play an important role in supporting students to successfully regulate negative emotions and support learning.

The book contains a wealth of cutting edge methodologies and methods that will be useful to researchers and the issues addressed are central to teaching and learning in a global context. A unifying methodology is the use of classroom events as the unit for analysis in research that connects to the interests of teacher educators, teachers, and researchers who can adapt what we have done and learned, and apply it in their local contexts. Event-oriented inquiry highlights the transformative potential of research and provides catchy narratives and contextually rich events that have salience to the everyday practices of teachers, teacher educators, and researchers. Methods used in the research include emotion diaries in which students keep a log of their emotions, clickers to measure in-the-moment emotional climate, and uses of cogenerative dialogue, which caters to diverse voices of students and teachers.

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Jennifer L. Oakley

Abstract

This ethnographic case study explores the emotional climate of a beginning science teacher’s Year 10 classroom and examines the ongoing use of cogenerative dialogue as a tool to transform teaching and learning. Classroom emotional climate has been linked to student academic outcomes, engagement in the learning process and student behavior. In this study, cogenerative dialogue was implemented in an Australian school setting to gain insight into classroom emotional climate and as a tool to reengage students who are disengaged from secondary science learning. The use of cogenerative dialogue to create shared understandings of classroom happenings has been found to improve teaching and learning in secondary schools. Randall Collins’ Interaction Ritual Theory provided a lens through which classroom interactions between the teacher and her students were examined in relation to their contributing effect on classroom emotional climate. In this multi-faceted study, data were collected using observations of classroom interactions, interviews and cogenerative dialogue. Further, student perceptions of emotional climate were recorded during classroom lessons using TurningPoint™ technology. An important contribution of this study is the understanding that unsuccessful classroom interactions involving a difficult and disruptive student perpetuated a cycle of non-membership in the classroom and further unsuccessful interactions with the classroom teacher. However, introducing cogenerative dialogue where this student experienced successful interactions with the classroom teacher, provided impetus for the student to transfer his membership of cogenerative dialogue into the classroom setting. This created a cycle of positive interactions with the classroom teacher, reaffirming the student’s membership of the classroom group. Further, this student gained positive emotional energy from interactions in the classroom and rated emotional climate as more positive. This study highlights the effectiveness of cogenerative dialogue in a beginning science teacher’s classroom to transform students’ perceptions of emotional climate.

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James P. Davis and Alberto Bellocchi

Abstract

Our purpose in this chapter is to review a discerning selection of recent science education research on the topic of emotions. Within the theme of theoretical foundations, we firstly discuss the big ideas influencing this body of literature that we describe in terms of ontology, epistemology and time; emotion and embodied experience; mindfulness; expression of emotion; and, emotional energy and emotional climate. We then review the most recent of these studies to highlight the outcomes of these investigations as they relate to school classrooms or teacher education. The studies included in this overview offer a foundation for future research, and support the forthcoming chapters of this collection that document emotional events in a range of contexts and from complementary and new perspectives.

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Stephen M. Ritchie

Abstract

For far too long, the study of learning in school classrooms was undertaken as if this could be achieved independently of learner emotions and contexts. A research focus on the role of learner emotions in school contexts was overdue. More importantly, the confluence of cognition and emotion, as observed in events that punctuated classroom structures dramatically, necessitated theorization of events. Applying what philosophers, sociologists and historians have learned about major historical events, my colleagues and I began a program of research to investigate classroom events as the unit for analysis. Emotional energy of the classrooms and discrete emotions of individuals were outcomes of salient learning events studied. We learned that eventful learning occurs dramatically for all to see, and un-dramatically over time and in ways less visible to other classroom participants. Eventful learning then involves both cognition and emotion and, as the cases reported in this book show, in classroom activities designed to engage learners emotionally.

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Alberto Bellocchi

Abstract

I present new research in this chapter exploring students’ lived experiences of social bonds – social and emotional connections – in science classrooms. I extend existing research on emotional events to consider their impact on social bond status by focusing on student introspection, or third-order rituals. Drawing on reflective discussions conducted in two 10th grade science classes, my focus was to understand science students’ social bonding experiences and how they are shaped by emotional events. Key aspects of social bond status associated with emotional events are presented including vicarious emotional experiences, personal relationships versus social roles, and how teacher responses to questions may disrupt bonds. Implications for future research on social bonds, emotional events and science learning and teaching are presented.

Managing Emotions

Outcomes of a Breathing Intervention in Year 10 Science

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Donna King, Maryam Sandhu, Senka Henderson and Stephen M. Ritchie

Abstract

Learning science can be an emotional experience. Recent research reveals that middle-years students experience negative emotions such as frustration and anxiety while learning science. Strategies to help students manage their emotions in science classes are emerging, but require further investigations to ascertain their effectiveness. In this study, an intervention, which adopted short deep breathing exercises to help students manage their emotions was trialled in a Year 10 science class. The aim of the study was to determine students’ emotional responses as well as the practicalities for implementing such an intervention. We conducted research using an ethnographic case study method where the teacher implemented short episodes of deep breathing exercises with students during each science lesson for seven weeks. Salient themes emerged from the analysis of video and audio files, field notes, students’ emotion diaries, 19 individual student interviews, and two teacher interviews. We present one main finding in this chapter; that is, students who experienced the negative emotions of frustration/anxiety reported that the breathing exercises changed their emotions. On the basis of this finding we suggest that teachers could use deep breathing exercises to help students experiencing negative emotions in class to ameliorate their emotions.

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Kenneth Tobin

Abstract

In this chapter I describe event-oriented inquiry and ways in which it has been used, and evolved in our research. Our uses of event-oriented inquiry are grounded in the research we have done on teaching and learning, and more recently, on the expression of emotion and wellness. Event-oriented inquiry is frequently used along with other methodologies in a multilogical approach that is participatory, interpretive, and embracing of hermeneutic-phenomenological frameworks that also incorporate critical pedagogy and aspects of ethnomethodology. A most important component of our methodology is authentic inquiry, which embraces four criteria – ontological, educative, catalytic, and tactical authenticity. Each of these criteria needs to be planned and enacted. In this chapter I pay particular attention to catalytic and tactical authenticity, and related aspects of designing and utilizing heuristics, as interventions, intended to improve the quality of education, at individual and collective levels, to ensure that all benefit from what we have learned from our research. Throughout the chapter I illustrate the principles of multilogical inquiry and event-oriented inquiry with examples drawn from previously published research that examined the expression of a teacher’s emotions and associated changes in her pulse rate, blood oxygenation, prosody, and proxemics. As part of ongoing research, I present what we learned about breathing while teaching in two scenarios, when the teacher’s blood oxygenation was low, and when it was high.

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Alberto Bellocchi

Abstract

In this chapter I present an original study of the interplay between emotions and science inquiry in an 8th-grade science class. I address the need to research emotional learning events by focusing on third-order (introspective) rituals. Research on emotion and science inquiry is scant, making the need for work like this pressing. Through analysis of student emotion diary data during three different inquiry activities, I focus on emotional events that may work against sustained engagement with inquiry. Practical implications are considered through the development of two inter-related perspectives named pedagogy of emotion and emotional pedagogy to assist teachers and students in addressing deleterious emotions related to science inquiry.

Online and Face-to-Face Learning in Science

Learning Events and Transformation of Understanding

Series:

Alberto Bellocchi and James P. Davis

Abstract

Historical and sociological accounts of events typically refer to abrupt macro-social changes that create discontinuity in social structures, thereby changing society. At a micro-social level of experience, events may also unfold that contribute to important localized change for the particular people involved. This study of a learning event is an original investigation using empirical data sourced from a secondary school science classroom. Our study adopts a micro-social perspective of events in the context of a school science lesson where emotional fluctuations form the basis for an event to be analyzed. In this sense we adopt the learning event as our unit of analysis to understand the lived experience of a student, the turning point in his learning, and the transformation of his understanding of scientific ideas, as localized structures. This study focuses on the experience of a year 9 science student during a lesson involving both online and face-to-face forms of social interaction. The learning event we analyze highlights the possible contribution of this type of analysis to understanding better, the interplay between emotion and cognition in science education contexts.

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Louisa Tomas, Donna King, Senka Henderson, Donna Rigano and Maryam Sandhu

Abstract

Learning science can be frustrating work, particularly in middle school, where the resolution of negative emotions like frustration is critical to empower students’ successful learning and encourage positive, ongoing engagement in science. In this chapter, we examine the resolution of frustration in two case study middle school science classes. The first case explores the experiences of a Year 8 science class, and their frustration associated with completing a challenging task in a unit focused on coal seam gas mining. The second case examines the frustration experienced by a single student who struggled to understand a Year 9 chemistry topic. In both cases, the student’s frustration was successfully regulated and resolved through two very different approaches adopted by their classroom teachers, which led to feelings of pride and happiness. These two cases are analysed using a model of emotion regulation, so as to understand better how these teachers’ actions influenced their students’ emotions. Analyses revealed that the teachers employed different extrinsic regulation strategies that were responsive to their students’ emotions and learning needs, particularly cognitive change and situation modification strategies. The findings reveal that teachers can play a very important role in supporting their students to successfully regulate their negative emotions so that learning can proceed, when it otherwise might not.