Energizing the college classroom with the science of emotions


Traditional views of education assume that reason should reign over emotion and that the classroom should be a quiet, dispassionate space where students and instructors impartially engage with facts, figures and theories. However, the field of education is beginning to awaken to the power of emotions to capture attention, mobilize efforts and enhance memory.

In an interactive workshop on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, Sarah Rose Cavanagh will bring to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology and neuroscience to suggest that targeting emotions in your presentation style, course design and assignments is a highly potent teaching strategy.

Cavanagh is on the faculty at Assumption College, where she directs the Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Science and serves as associate director for grants and research in the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her teaching focuses on emotion, motivation and neuroscience. Cavanagh’s research considers whether the strategies people choose to regulate their emotions and the degree to which they successfully accomplish this regulation can predict trajectories of psychological functioning over time. Her book, “The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion,” is part of James Lang’s series on teaching and learning in higher education.

This workshop is part of the Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute sponsored by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. It will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center. The institute is open to NIU faculty, instructors, SPS and civil service staff.

Click here to register online. Registration by Friday, Dec. 16, is required. 

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