The aim of the study was to research higher education students' meaningful emotions when studying and develop a model for understanding and verbalising the role of emotions. The model will facilitate the awareness of the role of emotions when learning.
The qualitative data consist of 45 narratives, gathered within three Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences in the Finnish metropolitan area. Emotions and their role in different encounters within a learning setting were analysed. The approach was narrative, and content analysis was used to analyse the data. The survey was shared through a link that was visible in the intranet of the students. The questionnaire was open for three weeks in spring 2018. It consisted of five open-ended questions that aimed at helping students in sharing their story which included different emotional experiences in the learning context. The questions were partly inspired by the Critical Incident Technique (CIT).
The results of the research show that most of the stories related to negative emotions. Most of the stories also described how the situation was resolved because our questions prompted respondents to write about that. The stories also described how students progressed with their studies. Some students considered the emotional experience to be “a lesson learned” for the future. Students also described how they had learned something about themselves and their reactions.
We collected the qualitative data within different fields and levels of study (Master and Bachelor). The statistical population consisted of approximately 35,000 enrolled students in the three Universities of Applied Sciences (hereafter UAS). The survey generated 45 answers. As the data were qualitative, we consider the richness of the accounts to be sufficient to answer our research questions.
We have concentrated mainly on students' verbalized emotions, but we are aware of the fact that emotions are born in interaction with other students, systems, contexts, with teachers and with the organizational culture in our universities. No man is an island; so, in other words emotions cannot be taken out of the context. Connecting all the verbalized emotions and the interpretations and combination of them (seven ways of talking about emotions) we created an educational practice “chart” called “Emotional Footprint”, using the concept as introduced by Levine (2015). This practice chart aims at visualizing that emotions should be understood in all possible learning contexts. It is about individuals understanding themselves, understanding others and using emotions as energizers.
It is important to support emotional expression and improve emotional competence during life-long learning. An uncertain future, described as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguity need more people, who have a strong understanding of emotions and how these enhance and prohibit. With this model for expressing, verbalizing emotions that is easy to transfer to other contexts in the future professional life of students, we also want to emphasize how our universities can learn to turn negative emotions into constructive energy as well as boost authentic, positive emotions. We have to be aware of the emotional spectrum in order to create a learning experience of high quality. Our emotional footprint as professionals of learning is central. It is part of our societal responsibility.
Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation who funded our research.
Ekström, M.C., Raatikainen, E. and Isacsson, A. (2020), "Between despair and joy – emotions in learning", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-08-2019-0215Download as .RIS
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