Partial Book Review: Emotions in Education

EmoEdI had thought that “Emotions in Education” (edited by Paul A Schutz and Reinhard Pekrun) was the book my professor had recommended me to read, but it turns out she recommended “Feeling Power – Emotions and Education” (by Megan Boler).  So I guess I should remove “pays attention to details” from my resume.

In any case, here is a brief summary: a collection of articles on different people’s emotions (student and teacher) and the issues and research surrounding those emotions in the education setting.  Emotions like anxiety, anger, hopelessness, shame, boredom, enjoyment, hope, pride, etc.  As a society we are largely unaware of the role emotions play in education.

I can’t possibly cover everything in this book in my blog post, so I will just say the one thing that I found interesting.  On a side note, if you want to read this book, make sure you have a degree in psychology or equivalent…because there’s a lot of technical data, models, concepts, and jargon.  Most of the true worth of this book went over my head.

Around pages 109 – 110, under the heading Motivation and Affect, the author explains Achievement Goal Theory.  Basically, goal orientations “provide a framework for interpreting and reacting to events”.  Why do student’s engage in achievement behaviours?  Suggestion 1) mastery goal orientation (developing one’s competence) and suggestion 2) performance goal orientation (demonstrating one’s competence).  The school environment has a large effect on which goal orientation the student chooses.  So if your school emphasises developing student competences, then you would expect to see more value placed on processes, reflection, activities, etc.  If your school emphasises demonstrating student competence, then you would expect to see more value placed on tests, presentations, performances, etc.

The resulting student experience from the two methods:

Mastery (developing) – You feel good if you begin to be relatively competent and if you have not yet or you are a long ways off from competency, you realize that it’s because you’re not trying or don’t have the support.

Performance (demonstrating)– You compare yourself with others (fellow classmates) and either feel good or sad depending on where you see yourself.  Inherent in this model, 50% of the class underperforms the other 50% of the class.  On one hand anxiety results, on the other pride and elation.

When Learning is the goal, then everyone can win.  When Performance is the Goal, winners win big, losers lose big.

(Picture of book cover from


About danieljatkins

I learn better without grades!
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