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Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies. Culture and Psychoanalysis. Eating Disorders. Existential therapy. Expressive Arts Therapies. Family, Couple and Systemic Therapy. Gestalt Therapy. Grief and Bereavement. According to Faculty, the extent to which emotions promoted or hindered learning was mediated by several factors including gender, age and life experience with mature age students perceived as being more able to cope with adversity , the intensity of emotions experienced, personality factors, and the nature of learning tasks. If they worry sometimes, at least it means they respect the difficulty of the task.

As further explained by a faculty member:. There are people who just freeze and those who act. Finally, the nature of the task was also important, e.


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Both participant groups perceived cognition to be impaired by negative emotions especially fear and to a lesser extent, boredom and anger. It made me unhappy and more stressed, because I really wanted to get some studying done but I found myself just being distracted by the emotion. Interestingly, only Faculty commented on the immobilization function, suggesting students may not be aware, or have the language to articulate this process yet. Social functioning was viewed as being both enhanced and impaired by negative emotions. Assistance seeking behaviors were prompted by feelings of frustration, fear and confusion.

For example, students approached teaching staff, peers, friends and family to clarify issues they were unsure about or to ask for help, including application for special consideration in times of hardship. At the same time, fear and anger were also thought to impair assistance seeking behavior and communication more broadly. While such behaviors could be considered adaptive, they were not perceived by lecturers to be cooperative or helpful to the learning process:. The experience of frustration encouraged exploration and curiosity, suggesting epistemic emotions may have an important role to play here:.

You have to sort of shut against a brick wall for a while before it falls down. Increased persistence, especially on undesirable tasks, was also associated with negative emotions such as dislike, uncertainty and unhappiness. Thus, they appear to play a role in promoting diligence and the commitment to follow through, especially on difficult or unpleasant tasks. Despite the perceived detrimental impact of negative emotions on attention broadly, interestingly fear was associated with increased conscientiousness, suggesting a role in promoting quality outcomes:.

Boredom was viewed as strongly hindering motivation and cognition, and one of the more challenging emotions to manage as a teacher:. Only three participants held the view that boredom could be motivating and productive in some circumstances. Negative emotions were also associated with encouraging surface learning approaches, such as rote learning materials the day before an exam, and other strategies considered undesirable by teaching staff.

Yeah, doubt, total doubt. In summary, a range of impacts were reported by participants, which provide clues as to the potential functions of particular negative emotions in learning and achievement at university. Patterns were observed in the data in relation to the effects of anger, fear, sadness and boredom across four main areas of functioning Table 1. Unlike positive emotions, which seem to have a mostly positive impact on learning e. This suggests a more complex relationship between negative affect and learning, a view supported by existing literature e.

Interestingly, adaptive functions were recognized more by Faculty, with students focusing on motivational consequences.

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The view that a certain level of negative emotion was needed to enhance engagement resonates with the Yerkes-Dodson Law that proposes a certain degree of stress or arousal can actually improve performance [ 68 ]. Anger and fear are clearly perceived to be both enablers and inhibitors of learning and achievement, impacting across all areas of functioning.

Anger and anxiety coded here as part of Fear are both considered activating emotions [ 3 ], however they likely serve different functions, with anger generally approach-related e. Pekrun and Perry note the motivational effects of negative activating emotions such as anger and fear are complex, as the outcomes can be so variable [ 3 ].

Fear serves to address threats, by removing oneself from a perceived danger, supporting previous scholarship which shows fear is elicited in response to appraisals of immediate and specific threats, and narrows thoughts and actions [ 27 , 67 ]. The research also supports existing work on anxiety, which has been found to impair performance in testing situations [ 14 ]. The key to better understanding the nuanced effects of these emotions may be to look more closely at the underlying appraisals of each [ 7 ]. This may reflect personality variables, but it is interesting that frustration directed toward external factors e.

It points to potential differences in the role of frustration as an epistemic vs. Emotions can share affective properties with other categories of emotion, but differ in terms of their object focus [ 8 ]. Frustration could be considered an epistemic emotion if the focus is on cognitive incongruity resulting from an unsolved problem, or an achievement emotion if the focus is on the curriculum or teacher as a perceived obstacle to academic success. In both cases frustration is an activating emotion which could in some circumstances promote strategy use i.

The finding that boredom hindered motivation and cognition, supports recent research suggesting boredom has a uniformly negative effect on learning and achievement outcomes [ 19 ]. However, recent perspectives suggest boredom may play a role in encouraging the pursuit of alternative goals and experiences, by signaling to a person that it is time to try something new [ 17 ]. Mixed findings in the literature could be due in part, to a lack of clarity and agreement around the arousal levels of boredom—like frustration, boredom is considered a deactivating emotion [ 3 ], however recent research suggests there may be subtypes of boredom with differing levels of arousal and valence [ 72 ].

Another factor may be perceptions of agency. In the present study, boredom was associated primarily with two external factors—the curriculum content and its delivery i. This suggests appraisals of agency are potentially an important antecedent to experiences of boredom, in addition to value and control which have already been theoretically and empirically established [ 18 ].

Further work is needed on this under researched emotion to determine more precisely its antecedents and impact. All mentions of sadness were in relation to its intrapersonal effects, an area of research that remains largely untested [ 73 ]. There was insufficient data to draw any other conclusions from our data and this emotion requires further investigation in educational contexts. In the scholarly literature, sadness is a deactivating emotion elicited by appraisals of irreparable loss and therefore likely has implications for how students cope in the face of adversity, e.

It may also play a role in helping students make sense of past failures in order to prevent future ones [ 74 ]. It is not clear why negative self-conscious emotions were not as strongly articulated as having an effect on learning, but were reported more in relation to emotional triggers. Existing literature on self-conscious emotions suggests they play an important role in achievement [ 47 ], so it could be that this is an artifact of the data given the majority of comments coded for negative self-conscious emotions were made by students and students do not appear to recognize the adaptive benefits of emotions to the same extent as teachers.

Future research would benefit from empirically investigating different types of shame, embarrassment etc. Such findings could be used to inform instructional strategies to prevent and manage shame and related responses [ 75 ], which may include developing students emotion knowledge. Several mediating factors were identified by Faculty as affecting the direction of impact promoting or inhibiting on learning and achievement following the experience of negative emotions.

These were mostly mentioned in relation to fear, although it should be noted that the overall number of comments was small and should not be over emphasized. Intensely felt emotions were thought be more detrimental, perhaps because they are harder to manage and regulate. While the nature of academic tasks was also mentioned, this received less emphasis than personal variables, which is surprising as task demands are emphasized in the literature as a major contributing factor to emotions experienced in educational settings e.

It is beyond the scope of the present paper to discuss all these mediating factors in depth, however a couple are worth a mention.

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Gender differences in experiences of affect for example, have been reported in relation to domain specific areas such as mathematics, with adolescent girls reporting significantly more anxiety than boys [ 77 ]. In both cases described, the same emotion frustration is experienced, but different approach behaviors are enacted that are likely to lead to very different outcomes. Personality traits are another area worthy of further investigation.

While they have been linked to academic performance and achievement some findings are mixed. For example, one study found neuroticism was negatively associated with academic achievement [ 78 ] while another reported it was not a strong predictor of GPA [ 79 ].

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It could be that there is an inverted relationship, which means some amount of neuroticism may be beneficial but too much detrimental. This and other trait emotions are deserving of further follow up. In our study, while some faculty commented on personality characteristics of students, few mentioned trait emotions. One lecturer observed that chronic predispositions to experience particular emotions such as anxiety were problematic and required professional treatment. While not examined here, individual differences relating to gender, culture etc.

Further, older adults are generally better able to differentiate positive and negative sources of emotion knowledge [ 81 ]. Findings reported in the present study are of perceptions of emotions, not induced or observed emotions. They provide a snapshot in time of the experiences of students and academics at one university, and cannot be generalized beyond that context. However, they can inform larger studies investigating more precise effects and causes e.

The sample was comprised of students and academics from diverse disciplines, which may affect their understanding of emotions, and therefore potentially influence the data. Other limitations include the general confines of using interviews as a data collection method e.

This is important as subtle affective cues can impact on cognition, i. Finally, we acknowledge the limitations of basic emotions as a construct e.