Carleton University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 2614-2623
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.0688
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
The education literature emphasizes the role of emotions in learning. From Bloom's Taxonomy to modern Game-Based Learning (GBL) approaches, the common theme is that learning is not a purely cognitive task and emotional factors have to be considered to provide an engaging and effective learning experience. Despite the existing body of knowledge, the practices of curriculum design and the related educational activities in higher education are generally geared toward accessibility of educational content and various support for cognitive tasks. While frameworks such as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) are receiving deserved attention at K-12 levels, it is not uncommon at undergraduate and graduate levels to think of students as "learning machines" that follow a cognitive input-process-output model. Emotional support is mostly limited to providing accommodation to a small minority who have been recognized as having "mental health" issues, while in fact, every person (student or faculty) should be seen as an emotional being, and plans and policies should be designed in a way that takes this into account. Meanwhile, various reports have suggested that the level of stress, anxiety, and depression among university and college students is increasing at alarming rates.

This paper addresses the topic of students' negative emotional experiences and their effect on the learning process at universities. To understand the role of emotions in the learning process, and investigate the difficulties students are facing and possible remedial actions that can lead to a comprehensive well-being framework, we conducted a survey of current university students with 7 quantitative and 1 open-ended qualitative questions related to negative emotions they have experienced since the start of the academic year and how these have affected their education. These were accompanied by 3 demographic questions about their gender, level of study, and area of study.

The survey was conducted during the second (winter) term in online and interview formats. This resulted in 116 on-line responses and 5 in-person interviews.

The survey showed that:
• More than half of the respondents have experienced stress.
• More than half reported getting discouraged, losing confidence, and having physical and mental health results.
• Majority of respondents who answered the demographic questions were female.

The qualitative responses highlighted issues such as the stressful nature of education, communication problems, traumatic encounters, burn-out effect, loneliness, and the lack of emotional training in faculty. After discussing these findings and based on them, we present a learner-centred approach that involves motivation and exploration for students, support and guidance for instructors, and a relationship of trust and understanding between them.

To establish such a relationship, we propose and discuss the following practical recommendations:
• Acknowledging that students are people not learning machines and as such, have emotions that affect their work.
• Relating to them by observing, being more positive than negative, and communicating better.
• Rewarding growth and providing an environment for it, as opposed to evaluating based on static metrics.
• Admitting that we are also humans, make mistakes, have weaknesses, and experience emotions

We conclude by discussing the role of institutional support and the need for a comprehensive well-being framework at universities and colleges.
Student, emotion, learning, survey.