Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Cognitive Emotions in E-Learning Processes and Their Potential Relationship with Students' Academic Adjustment

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Cognitive Emotions in E-Learning Processes and Their Potential Relationship with Students' Academic Adjustment

Article excerpt


Scholars have already identified the importance of emotions to understand learning through face to face and distance educational settings (Artino, 2012; D'Errico, Paciello & Cerniglia, 2016; Feidakis, Daradoumis, Caballé, & Conesa, 2014; Parlangeli, Marchigiani, Guidi & Mesh, 2012). According to Scheffler (1991) such learning processes are not merely an aggregation of information, or fact-gathering exercises or the methodological application of procedures. Nor does learning operate in isolation of our emotions or emotional appraisals.

This paper is underpinned by a socio-cognitive approach (Castelfranchi & Miceli, 2009) and appraisal theories (Scherer, 2000) which define emotions as adaptive devices that either monitor the state of achievement, or serve to thwart individuals' goals. Thus, emotions can be constructed as multifaceted internal states, encompassing feelings and cognitive, physiological, expressive, and motivational aspects,that are triggered whenever an individual's goal is achieved/thwarted or likely to be (D'Errico & Poggi, 2016; Poggi, 2008).

Within traditional academic contexts, Pekrun and colleagues (2011) explored 'academic emotions', demonstrating that positive emotions can predict creative thinking and reflecting, thereby fostering good academic outcomes, whereas negative emotions are more likely associated with lower grades. More specifically, positive emotions such as enjoyment, hope and pride have been positively associated with effort, self-regulation and more sophisticated learning strategies, whereas anger, frustration, shame, anxiety and boredom have been associated with lower performances and external regulation (Pekrun, Goetz, Frenzel, Barchfeld & Perry, 2011). Achievement emotions (Pekrun, 2006) when considered in relation to on-line situations, were suggested to be specific to that context.

Similarly, in the e-learning domain, previous studies (D'Errico, Paciello & Cerniglia, 2016) demonstrated that positive emotions across different e-learning activities were higher than negative emotions, particularly during synchronous activities with a teacher and also with peers. It was also found that experiencing positive emotions during exam preparation was strongly correlated with the behavioral and affective dimensions of engagement. Feeling positive during the different phases of e-learning processes helped students to enact constructive behaviors, achieve positive results, and to experience "affective relevance" in relation to acquired content. This emotional positivity during engagement, could also serve to increase students' sense of mastery during exam preparation. (D'Errico, Paciello & Cerniglia, 2016) further suggest however, that particular attention needs to be paid to the negative emotions reported during chat/interactions with teachers, as these could be an early warning sign of poor/flawed preparation and engagement on the part of the student.

In contrast to previous studies, which focused on the comparison between positive and negative emotions in e-learning contexts, the present work aimed to explore the role played by cognitive emotions. According to Scheffler (1991) cognitive emotions can be considered the 'emotional filters through which we view the world, interpret its objects and evaluate its critical features. They involve seeing things as beneficial or harmful, promising or threatening, fulfilling or thwarting' (p.45). In particular, cognitive emotions monitor incoming content and are elicited when acquiring or developing new skills/knowledges (Castelfranchi, 2000; O Regan 2003; Poggi, 2008). To this end, cognitive emotions could play a crucial role in understanding the learning process, as they can indicate the state of a student's emotions, or the "flow", when facing challenging new learning tasks (Bassi, Steca, Delle Fave & Caprara, 2007). Exploring cognitive emotions thus could be considered an opportunity for real-time evaluation of the emotional responses to the learning process. …

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