This paper seeks to investigate the potential role of emotional intelligence (EI) abilities within learning in teams. The research focuses on examining how EI abilities are enacted within team contexts and how these are associated with critical reflection and team processes associated with learning.
A phenomenological approach to the investigation of EI abilities was adopted using a diary methodology to capture how EI abilities were enacted over a 14‐week team project by 80 MBA students from a range of international backgrounds. Such an approach is advocated to offer insights into the internal processes by which social action is perceived “in situ”.
The two EI abilities, emotional awareness and emotional management, were found to influence the three critical reflection processes: problem analysis, theorising cause and effect relationships, and action planning, as well as processes associated with team learning including team identification, social engagement, communication and conflict management.
EI may offer insights into how differences in the nature, direction and depth of critical reflection can occur in team learning contexts. Developmental initiatives that aim to improve the emotional abilities of team members may help individuals to better manage the emotional context of learning in teams.
Despite the increasing recognition of the role emotions play in learning, very little is known to date about how differences in the way in which emotional information is processed within social learning contexts can influence critical reflection or other learning processes. The paper fills some of the gaps.
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