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Lia M. Daniels

Emotion in Education: A Timely and Thorough Compilation

Review of Shultz, P. A, & Pekrun, R. (Eds.), 2007. Emotion in Education. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 348.



The editors of this volume, Paul A. Schultz and Reinhard Pekrun, have convened a strong group of authors whose works, individually and as a collective, represent a state-of-the-art compilation of research in the area of emotion in education. Emotion in Education is divided into three substantive sections reflecting a broad range of theories, research questions, participants, and methodologies. The first section deals with theoretical perspectives on emotions in education (Ch 2-6). The second section addresses students' emotions (Ch 7-12), and the third focuses on teachers' emotions in educational contexts (Ch 13-17). In addition, the "Introduction" (Ch 1) and final chapter on "Implications and Future Directions" (Ch 18), serve important functions in not only describing the current state of research on emotions, but in setting the agenda for the field so that we move forward in a cohesive manner.

In section one, five of the most current approaches to studying emotions in education are presented. Although the chapters reflect very different perspectives, they are unified in their focus on describing the characteristics or qualities of emotions themselves, and then articulating specific antecedents and outcomes of emotions. Each of the perspectives acknowledges that valence; being positive (pleasant) or negative (unpleasant), is one of the most fundamental characteristics of emotions. Pekrun, Frenzel, Goetz and Perry additionally classify emotions as activating or deactivating and as having either an activity (e.g., studying) or outcome focus (e.g., passing a test). Weiner also provides a more comprehensive view on the qualities of emotions suggesting that, in addition to being classified as positive and negative, emotions should be considered as focusing on achievement or affiliation, as being directed towards the self or other and as requiring greater or lesser amounts of thoughtfulness (i.e., cognitive effort).

Each author has his or her own perspective on the antecedents to emotions as well. Pekrun and colleagues identify control and value appraisals as the primary precursors to emotions, whereas Boekaerts suggests that appraisals regarding the congruency between goals and progress are the source of emotions. Within the framework of the hierarchical model of approach-avoidance achievement motivation, Elliot and Pekrun discuss the role of achievement goals in predicting emotions, and from an attribution perspective Weiner focuses on controllability of causality as the primary antecedent of moral emotions. Finally, Ratner explains how emotions stem from macro cultural factors such as social institutions, artifacts and cultural concepts. In addition to citing their own research on these antecedents of emotions, the researchers show clear evidence of how emotions influence a number of outcomes including cognitive resources, motivation, effort, self-regulation, strategies, pro-social or anti-social behaviors and achievement. Although the theories presented are tailored towards educational phenomena and researchers, the theories could be applied to other domains.

The chapters presented in the second section focus on students' emotions in educational settings. Towards this end, the authors tend to take either an experience-focused or a process-focused approach to explaining students' emotions. Under the experience-focused category, Turner and Waugh (Ch 8), Ainley (Ch 9), and Zeidner (Ch 10) each provide an in-depth account of students' experiences of one emotion, namely, shame, interest and anxiety respectively. In doing so these authors focus on the phenomenological experience of the emotions as well as their impact on students' motivation, learning and achievement. The remaining chapters focus on a range of emotions, moods and affects and the processes by which emotions can both affect students' interpretations of situations as well as be affected by particular scenarios. Linnenbrink (Ch 7) examines this process within the framework of circumplex models of affect, Op't and colleagues (Ch 11) propose a meta-emotion perspective and DeCuir-Gunby and Williams (Ch 12) employ a critical race theory framework in their examination of how race and racism impacts students' emotions. The chapters are easy to read and comprehensive, however, it would have been beneficial for the authors to explicitly state whether their program of research was based on school-aged or college-aged students rather than leaving the reader to infer the age of the sample.

Overall these authors focus on the general experience and process of emotions in specific educational situations. Interestingly, none of the theoretical perspectives articulated in section one appear to be the driving force behind any of the programs of research presented in section two. Linnenbrink and Ainley refer to the control-value theory, but otherwise the empirical work appears largely directed by other approaches to emotion or larger more general theories that include but do not focus primarily on emotions. Although this tendency foreshadows some of the editors concluding remarks regarding "integrating theories on emotions" (p. 317) and "enlarging theoretical perspectives" (p. 318), the cohesion of the book may have been enhanced by a tighter link between the theoretical perspectives forwarded and the empirical research on students' emotions. This is particularly true for students interested in the topic and its overall utility as a potential textbook for graduate level courses, an audience and objective identified by the editors at the outset of the book.

The last section focuses on teachers' emotions in the educational context. These chapters largely present qualitative investigations of teachers' emotions (e.g., phenomenology, narrative discourse, ethnography etc.) revealing emotional experiences that could be explained by the theories presented in the first section. For example, Liljestrom and colleagues' (Ch 16) description of the source of teachers' anger aligns with an attributional analysis, and the discussion of fear could be interpreted from the perspective of the control-value theory (see p. 287). However, as was the case with the empirical research on students' emotions, few of the authors turned to these theories as the lens through which they interpreted their results.

Despite the lack of theoretical convergence, two broad themes clearly emerged across the chapters. First, the authors are unanimous in their assertion that teaching is an emotionally demanding profession that has strict display rules for those who choose the profession. Exploring how teachers deal with these display rules, most of the researchers focus on teachers' negative emotions (Ch 15, 16 17), such as anger and frustration, and how these emotions impact teachers' sense of identity (Ch 13), regulation (Ch 15), and their ability to support student learning (Ch 14). Second, the authors all seem to forward the idea that teachers' emotions are critically tied to students. As Schutz, Cross, Hong, and Obson state, "Classrooms involve both teachers and students who come to that activity setting with their own personal histories that have emerged from transactions within their own social-historical contexts. Therefore, in essence, our attempt will be to acknowledge this transactional interdependence while discussing classroom activities from the teachers' perspective" (p.224). Likewise, Meyer and Turner suggest, "teachers use emotions to support student learning and development" (p. 244). Liljestrom, Roulston, and deMarrais argue that, "teachers' emotions are crucial for bonding with the students" (p.277). In other words, as much as empirical investigations of teachers' emotions may consider how emotions impact the teachers' themselves, it seems equally if not more important to recognize that teachers' emotions impact their students and emerge from their interactions with students.

Juxtaposing these two themes with the empirical work on students' emotions is quite intriguing because it implies that researchers approach the study of teacher and student emotions differently, even though they extend from a shared setting. It seems that current research on the emotional experiences of students evolve around the students themselves without explicit concern for classroom context or other members of their learning community, whereas, the study of the emotional experiences of teachers evolve in tandem with these other external forces. Emotion researchers may want to reflect on these different approaches to studying students' versus teachers' emotions given the undeniable fact that the emotions stem from the same educational context.

In the final chapter of the book, Pekrun and Schutz provide concrete suggestions as to how the study of emotions in education can best be advanced. Some of these include using multi-method approaches, incorporating behavioral and neuropsychological assessments of emotions, and exploring emotions at different levels of education and in different educational contexts. Researchers and students interested in studying emotions would do well to heed these prescriptions. In addition to the directions provided in the conclusion, I feel the chapters presented across all sections of the book raise two critical issues that may be prudent next steps in this field. First, both the theoretical chapters and empirical evidence point to the reciprocity of emotions and outcomes, or the idea of feedback loops. This topic is crucial to explore in future research to tease apart the interplay between constructs. Second, many of the theoretical perspectives address multiple dimensions of emotions, but the empirical results still seem to be reduced to the valence dimension as the driving influence on outcomes. Are the other dimensions of emotions important in understanding the effects of emotions in educational contexts? This question will be crucial in synthesizing the theoretical approaches to studying emotions.

In conclusion, Emotion in Education is well organized, thorough, and accurate. The book is easy to read and provides an excellent overview of the current status of research on students' and teachers' emotions. This book is evidence that the time has come to give up the common refrain that "no one is studying emotion in education." The theoretical and empirical work presented in the chapters of this book show that researchers are actively studying not only students' emotions in education but also the emotions of teachers and the transaction between the two.



Lia M. Daniels

University of Alberta

lia.daniels(at)ualberta.ca