Designing Emotionally Sound Instruction - an Empirical Validation of the FEASP-Approach

Article excerpt

This article presents an empirical study testing the applicability and consistency of the so-called FEASP-approach dealing with strategies for making instruction more emotionally sound. The FEASP-approach represents a comprehensive and theory-based instructional design model addressing the integration of emotions into classroom instruction. 163 teachers and 53 students were asked about the importance of emotions, and also about the frequency and the effects of FEASP-related emotional strategies during instruction. Results show that there are clear indications that the FEASP-approach is relevant, usable, consistent, and affecting emotions in daily instruction. Finally, further steps in validating the approach are discussed.

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Human emotions are highly correlated with interest, effort, irrelevant thinking, and also, what seems to be most important in daily instruction, with study achievements (Pekrun, 1998). Therefore, how emotions can be influenced during instruction is important for instructional designers. Up to now, the only comprehensive and theory-based instructional design model accommodating several types of different emotions is the FEASP-approach (Astleitner, 1999, 2000). This prescriptive approach assumes that 20 different general instructional strategies can increase positive emotions (i.e., sympathy and pleasure) and can decrease negative emotions (i.e., fear, envy, and anger). The FEASP-approach has not only been formulated for traditional instruction, but also for designing modern instructional technology (Astleitner & Leutner, 2000) (see Figure 1).

In contrast to many approaches which are closely related to "emotional intelligence" or "self science" (e.g., Stone-McCown, Jensen, Freedman, & Rideout, 1998), the FEASP-approach is not dealing with the question of what should be learned in extra courses to develop certain student's emotions. However, it considers how any instruction should be designed to become emotionally sound without any significant additional resources. Despite this important practical advantage and despite the fact, that within the FEASP-approach a theoretically and practically funded mechanism for finding the relevant strategies was used, there are not yet any empirical data about the effectiveness of this approach in daily instruction. There are several open questions which should be answered by research activities in order to find out more about the validity of the FEASP-approach for designing and implementing emotionally sound instruction:

1) Are emotions important for teachers and students in daily instruction? Although, in basic research, the importance of emotions for learning has been demonstrated several times (e.g., Pekrun, 1992), it is an open question, whether instructional designers (e.g., teachers) and students find emotions and their consideration really necessary in daily instruction. For example, instructional designers might think, that emotions should be faded out, because they disturb the focusing on cognitive learning objectives or they are closely related to the emotional development of students what is primarily a duty of other socializing agents, such as family or peers. Students might think, that their emotions are private and that they should not be handled from another person in a public situation within a classroom.

2) What are the most important emotions in instruction from the view of teachers and students? Within theoretical approaches and related research on emotions and instruction, there are numerous types of emotions included (e.g., Jerusalem & Pekrun, 1999). The FEASP-approach postulated that only five special types of emotions should be dealt with (i.e., fear, envy, anger, sympathy, and pleasure). If, within the FEASP-approach, the wrong emotions are implemented, then instructional designers will not use this approach or students are not helped when having emotional problems. It is especially practically relevant that emotions are found which are important for both groups, teachers and students. …