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Quantitative analyses conducted on the self-reports of first year university students suggest that there is a relationship between the ways they emotionally experience their course and the approach they take to the learning of that course. Students who more strongly experience positive emotions, such as hope and pride, and more weakly experience negative emotions ( such as anger, boredom, anxiety and shame ), are likely to be adopting more of a deep approach to learning. In comparison, students who describe more of a surface approach to learning are more likely to report an experience of lower positive emotions and higher negative emotions. Both the experience of more positive emotions and the adoption of a deeper approach are associated with higher achievement scores. Lower achievement is associated with surface approaches to learning and negative emotional experiences. The value of these results lies in enhancing awareness of the elements that make up the learning experience for students, and of the need for consideration of the full range of emotional and approach to learning elements in designing new learning environments.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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