Focus Questions

Three initial focus questions guided this study. These questions addressed the three stakeholder perspectives represented in the research data: faculty, students, and researcher. The following paragraphs outline each of the three focus questions and present a very brief response to these questions.

Instructors' Perspectives

What is the thinking of faculty as they prepare for a class in which they will use affective pedagogy, and how do they assess this process at the end of the course?

Although the entire faculty readily acknowledged that they included attention to affective issues in their courses, none explicitly included affective outcomes in the intended curriculum. Affective learning was implicit and found in various places within the syllabi. The notion that faculty spend time constructing a pedagogical strategy to create affective outcomes was not apparent. At best, the faculty were able to describe certain processes or techniques they enjoyed using. At the end of the courses, faculty described more specifically what worked and what did not work for them. Most of their comments were specific to their own teaching style, except for their desire to have a balance of cognitive and affective pedagogy in the courses.

The model also helps us understand why faculty value affective pedagogy. It is likely that faculty perceived students' positive reactions to their care and immediacy behaviors, although they did not use those terms, and thus valued this aspect of their affective pedagogy. In this study, the most common behaviors that contributed to positive classroom culture arising from the crystalized data analysis were:

1. Permission giving

2. Supporting an active feedback process

3. Hearing the students' opinions

4. Encouraging classroom discussions

5. Teaching with a relaxed body posture

6. Making use of proxemics and changing formal classroom arrangements

7. Smiling and engaging in eye contact with students

8. Exhibiting a positive personality

Students' Perspectives

What is the classroom culture and what is instructor's pedagogy that supports or detracts from the students' perception of an effective educational experience, and what changes do students recommend to enhance their affective educational experiences?

Students valued a wide range of affective pedagogical techniques used by faculty who taught the three courses, but they varied in their perceptions of which strategies they liked best. Some students reported that they tried to take as many courses as possible from specific faculty because they found that person's teaching style personally effective. Students expressed a need for explicit interweaving of affective and cognitive pedagogy, especially as it relates to assigned course readings. Students said role playing, interactive dialogue, and a variety of reflective strategies were valuable for them as learners. Most students identified self-awareness learning tools as being particularly helpful. They also enjoyed beginning class meetings with music, poems, meditation, visualizations, or some other form of centering or creating a calming or even sacred space. These strategies helped them focus on the content of the day's class and leave the rest of the world behind. Some students enjoyed highly aesthetic pieces, while other students did not even want to attend class during such presentations. Real value was experienced in open, supportive classroom climates that allowed them to explore questions of interest to them. However, some students suggested that faculty need to manage classroom discussions more effectively, especially in cases when certain students were flooding or monopolizing class time. Students noticed proxemic considerations when the classroom was physically uncomfortable for them, but they did not mention proxemic factors that were particularly helpful for them. The student participants were very open with regard to advice they would offer faculty if they were assisting in course refinement, which included the following recommendations:

1. Faculty should be careful to integrate or weave affective and cognitive pedagogy together for the most valued learning environments.

2. Faculty should be careful to see that all materials students are required to purchase are used explicitly in connection with classroom activities.

3. When students are required to make class presentations, faculty should give specific guidance to eliminate pure lecture formats.

4. Students recommended the use of reflective labs, small discussion groups (with appropriate process rules), or reflective time in class to address the affective issues that develop.

5. Students want faculty to articulate and maintain rules and controls regarding classroom process and discussions. This is best accomplished early in a course. The students in this study suggested that faculty manage discussions so a few students do not dominate the discussion. They also were concerned about informal student criticisms that made it unpleasant to risk speaking one's mind. More specifically, they strongly suggested that faculty be very clear with students about self-disclosure boundaries so that classroom flooding (a term that means when a student overwhelms a class with too much personal information, like a confessional) could be limited. When self-disclosure becomes too intense, faculty could convert the specific issue into a story metaphor that is not exactly the same as the proclaimed self-disclosure.

6. Students expect faculty to be conscious of, and manage classroom proxemic concerns such as seating, light, and temperature control. Limiting class size might have alleviated overcrowding, the most pressing proxemic problem in the courses observed.

Researcher's Perspectives

What are the classroom cultures for three different groups of post-baccalaureate professional students when they are educated toward the affective
domain of knowing?

Although faculty and students alike were unable to articulate exactly what it was they valued in terms of pedagogy or affective theoretical frameworks, both groups valued what happened in the three classrooms I observed. The Affective Classroom Assessment Tool helped me identify more clearly what transpired in the classrooms and what both groups valued. Students presented a subjective understanding of a nonjudgmental classroom climate and positive faculty characteristics. Again, the model and tool developed for this study helped me interpret that finding. My observations indicated that faculty exhibited a range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors related to immediacy and care theory with a few of these behaviors being used in all three classrooms regularly. These immediacy and care practices created an accepting, open climate that fostered trust and risk taking in the classroom. I also identified what faculty used to address aesthetic, empirical, personal, ethical, and intersubjective knowing and now I better understand how these ways of knowing related to affective and cognitive pedagogy. The global themes I was able to identify were:

1. Faculty have a limited awareness of what they actually do related to affective teaching methods.

2. All faculty and many students have perceived risks for teaching in theaffective domain and each instructor had a strategy to address the risk.

3. The faculty do not use a theoretically grounded or documented evidencedbased strategy regarding the usefulness of affective pedagogy, but rather use what has been working for them over time.

4. The faculty do not continually refine their teaching in any reflective manner, but do critique their classes at the end to determine what might need changing.

5. The students and faculty recognized the need for better integration ofaffective and cognitive pedagogies, especially using a weaving method throughout a class.

SUMMARY

When affective teaching methods are measured, it turns out that affective teaching has been a process mostly attached to experience and preference by faculty. If we begin to use interpretive inquiry, we will be able to connect many data points into a coherent understanding of what is occurring for faculty and students. This will need to be a growing area of new educational research, but we do have some information that can provide us with an affective language and tools for faculty to use as educators begin to formalize their incorporation of affective teaching methods into their classrooms. We certainly will need to see more work in this area in the future, once there is some agreement that we believe the data from interpretive studies are valuable and scientific in their own right.

Appendix 6.1 Affective classroom Assessment tool

CLASS DATE HOUR OBSERVER

30-miNute time PERIODS

OBSERVATION

30

60

90

120

150

180

PROXEMICS: setup and changes

INSTRUCTIONAL PEDAGOGY

Lecturing and explaining

Training and coaching

Inquiry and discovery

Experience and reflection

Groups and teams

IMMEDIACY THEORY / CARE THEORY

Verbal

Use of humor

Faculty self-disclosure, personal examples

Models words of acceptance and promoting self-worth

Appropriate student praise or acknowledgment

Permission giving

Supporting an active feedback process

Creating a flexible discussion or course requirements

Hearing students' opinions

Follow-up on student initiated topics

Encouraging classroom discussions

Supporting group approval for warmth and receptivity discussion

Allowing for emotions and feelings to be part of the discussion

Open to students outside of class

Faculty engaging with students outside of class

Nonverbal

Vocal expressiveness

Relaxed body posture

Uses classroom space away from formal structure

Uses body movements as gestures

Smiling at the class

Engaging in student eye contact

Nonintrusive touch

Positive personality

Anticipating and monitoring needs

Holistic understanding (looking at students in total, beyond objectives)

Connected to humanness (empathy, feelings, personal barriers)

Presence (active engage to another & connect with feeling)

Habitualized schemata (natural flow of caring)

WAYS OF KNOWING

Aesthetic Knowing strategies

Story telling

Problem solving in metaphor

Use of pictures, art, literature

Use of visualizations

Use of music

Creating sacred space (ritual)

Ethical Knowing strategies

Beliefs, values, moral values

Ethical principles

Ethical praxis

Personal Knowing strategies

Personal expression

Heuristic problem solving

Relationship building

Reflectivity for personal awareness

Personal conscious awareness strategies

Subconscious awareness strategies

Empirical Knowing strategies

Readings and articles

Theories and models

Research

Other

Intersubjective Knowing strategies

Psychodrama

Gestalt methods

Empathetic interview

Role playing

Reflective strategies

Interactive dialogue

 
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