Emotional Impact on Learning
A growing number of schools and districts have incorporated Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in their strategic plans, professional learning, and budgets. We are doing exploratory research in SEL to identify methods of assessing a student’s emotional state in undergraduate courses; analyzing emotional state data to determine whether there is a correlation to performance; and helping the student recognize how their emotional state may be impacting performance.
The experiment was conducted in one of the undergraduate courses in the Engineering School in Spring 2018. The course is offered every semester in multiple sections and has a total enrollment of approximately 650 students per year. One of the assignments in the course is a practice test that students complete before the midterm and the final exams. The practice test includes multiple-choice and true-false questions and can be retaken an unlimited number of times. Before each attempt students were asked to answer two questions as follows: How you feel about doing the test today? How intense is your feeling?
We used a simple scale to determine the emotional valence (positive, neutral, negative) and a five point likert scale about the intensity of the emotion of the student before taking the test. We are currently analyzing the results to see if there is a correlation between the emotional valence and intensity of the emotion, and test performance. We would provide a summary of our findings along with recommendations on how to help students find a workaround for their emotional issues.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
We are doing exploratory research in SEL to identify methods of assessing a student’s emotional state while performing course assignments and analyzing emotional state data to determine whether there is a correlation to performance.
Some key takeaways are a simple method to assess emotions in a real world educational setting, that can be used to help students recognize their emotion, and also recognize whether their emotion may be impacting their performance on a given assignment. If there is a correlation, the students can be assisted to find a workaround for their emotional issue, such as getting additional counseling by a teacher, tutor, or psychologist to address the concern; or getting assistance in learning the material using different approaches that are adapted to his or her needs, such as flex time for test taking, or additional reassurance with shorter, easier assignments that gradually build up the student’s confidence to tackle more complex material .