Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Socialization of Feelings in Undergraduate Education: A Study of Emotional Management

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Socialization of Feelings in Undergraduate Education: A Study of Emotional Management

Article excerpt

Literature in higher education offers faculty conflicting advice on how to understand and improve their instructional practices to facilitate student socio-emotional development. Using qualitative methods to study nine tenured professors, the paper offers description, analysis, and interpretation of how faculty handled their emotions during instruction, why they handled their emotions in these particular ways, and what the connections are between the ways they handled their emotions and their purposes of facilitating student development and learning. It is the acts and words of defining -- labeling, symbolizing, and identifying affective norms -- that are the foundation of faculty's work in fostering student emotional development. These acts and words of defining appropriate and inappropriate emotions qualify as the socialization of feeling.

Educators and scholars specializing in higher education identify and endorse the socio-emotional development of students as being a primary purpose of postsecondary education (Astin, 1977; Bok, 1974; Bowen, 1977; Boyer, 1987; Chickering & Reisser, 1993; McPherson, 1983). One reason given for emphasizing student emotional growth is research findings that offer evidence for the existence of multiple and strong connections between affect and cognition (Baxter Magolda, 1992; Kegan, 1994; Perry, 1970). The maturation of student emotion is seen as contributing to student intellectual development and thus the academic mission of universities and colleges.

The literature calls for professors to attend to the affective, cognitive, and moral dimensions of their classroom instruction in order to facilitate student socio-emotional development -- as well as promote student learning (Adams, 1976; Brookfield, 1990; Davis, 1993; Grow, 1991; Lowman, 1984; Mann, et al., 1970; Perry, 1970; Wilshire, 1990; Wingspread Group on Higher Education, 1993). The literature forwards models of instruction and learning that contain advise, set goals, and provide frameworks to assist the faculty in understanding the requirements of their work. For example, Boyer (1987) states: "The central qualities that make for successful teaching can be simply stated: command of the material to be taught, a contagious enthusiasm for the play of ideas, optimism about human potential, the involvement with one's students, and -- not least -- sensitivity, integrity, and warmth as a human being" (p. 154). Here professors are told that to be good instructors they should be enthusiastic, optimistic, sensitive, and warm in their interactions with students. Embedded in this model is the position that good teaching requires faculty members to monitor, channel, and regulate their emotion in specific ways to achieve success in teaching. Similarly, Lowman (1984) in his book on university level instruction, tells his readers to go for a walk prior to class to establish the proper frame of mind necessary to be enthusiastic in the classroom.

There is also the advice to faculty to control the classroom environment in ways that restrict student expression of emotion or at least structure learning in a manner that is sensitive to the student's emotional experience. Grow (1991) states that the kind of learning that is needed today requires learners to "examine themselves, their culture, and their milieu in order to understand how to separate what they feel from what they should feel, what they value from what they should value, and what they want from what they should want" (p. 133). Kegan (1994) sees the "wrenching of the self from its cultural surround" (p. 275), which occurs through this examination, as emotionally painful. Others have also discussed the pain and discomfort students experience as they become self-reflective and begin to challenge their taken-for-granted ways of knowing and being (Crooks, 1995; Brookfield, 1990; Fried, 1993; Meacham, 1995; Momeyer, 1995; Wilshire, 1990). Recommendations are offered to the faculty for helping students cope with their discomfort and anxiety, as well as counsel on how to increase student love of learning and decrease boredom. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.