III Integrating Affective Teaching in Nursing: The Big Picture in Nursing Education

There is a string of consciousness that unifes everything and all reality. Our own filters reinterpret these things to our mind's reality, which is individual. Knowing this is called enlightenment and has been called enlightenment through the ages. (Hagelin, 2006)

Conducting a Current Literature Review on Affective Teaching: What Does This Mean for Nursing?

In current education research around the world, educators continue to examine how affective pedagogy is impacting their students and practices. However, I have found very little discussion and current research in nursing education in this area from the past 10 years. Most of what has been written by nurse researchers comes from the mid-1990s. This does not mean we cannot learn from other disciplines conducting research on educational strategies. Therefore, in this chapter, I will look for ways to integrate recent findings from other disciplines into nursing education. Even though such integration may be hypothetical, it is useful to speculate regarding ways nursing education may begin to use current research and practice regarding affective teaching. Looking at the concepts of emotional intelligence (EI), e-learning, and the value of our relationships, can be powerful when considering affective teaching in nursing. This chapter examines current research on these topics and discusses ways in which we can bridge the cyclical drought that nursing education appears to be in with regard to affective teaching.


We examine some of the current research regarding affective teaching as an introduction to how this research may be applied to nursing education. This research comes from various fields, and in some cases includes meta-analysis regarding impacts to student learning. These recent studies do not indicate a resurgence of affective pedagogical studies on student learning outcomes. However, they do show us some ways in which current affective educational approaches have impacted other disciplines.

The first study is one by Dede (2009), which was conducted at Cumhuriye University, in Sivas, Turkey. Dede “investigated the role of comprehension tests used in teaching algebra and to examine its effects on student's success” (p. 497). One of his measurements was to examine affective competencies for these students looking at self-confidence, interest, anxiety, beliefs, motivation, and values. The comprehension testing used during this algebra course saw positive indicators by the end of the course for all six of these affective domains. Dede termed this approach action research and used affective measurement as an indicator of an affective teaching method. He found a correlation with improved comprehension during algebra testing using the affective competencies.

EI incorporates the idea of having self-awareness and social skills in order to be successful in certain situations life throws our way. Its utility has been examined in the field of business in particular. We examine the concept of EI in greater detail in Chapter 10. For the purposes of this chapter, however, it is worthwhile to note that EI has been considered in affective teaching, especially in K–12 settings. Thus, for this examination of current research in affective teaching, I am including a review of EI studies.

Of note is one study that challenges the belief that EI is more important than intelligence quotient (IQ) for academic success, which has been a thesis of the EI movement. Previous studies on EI's predictability of academic success were based on self-report. However, EI has been scrutinized more vigorously in recent years. Barchard (2003) conducted a study on 150 undergraduate students where he examined their cognitive domain using a “battery of 12 timed cognitive tests to measure four different first-stratum cognitive abilities” (p. 842). In addition, Barchard tested these subjects using a combination of many documented EI tests for 31 different EI measurements. He also provided some assessments on personality type to determine if these are also predictors of success. The time required for participants to complete the testing was 3.5 to 4 hours. Using multiple regression analysis, he looked to see if any of the EI domains “increased the ability to predict academic success” (p. 850). Barchard did not find any of the 31 different EI measurements able to assist faculty or students to predict their success in college. However, he did find that cognitive and personality assessments were able to predict academic success.

The work of Barchard (2003) gives some significant push-back on the value of EI attributes for better predictability of academic success, and this is worth looking at more closely. Is it possible that we need to use the broader and more recent discussion of social–emotional learning (SEL) (discussed in Chapter 10) versus the older mode of just looking at EI measurements? Regardless, consideration of what EI really is capable of offering in terms of student success will need further study, although it may not be useful for predicting academic success. However, its applications in business and leadership roles may be the key to its continued value in society. Many EI authors (discussed in Chapter 10) suggest that this is what makes a person more successful in their work life, with little said about academic success.

Turning from EI to research on teacher–student relationships, another recent examination of affective teaching concepts by Cornelius-White (2007) is of interest. In his 2007 study, he conducted a meta-analysis of the impact of a positive teacher–student relationship on learning. He examined 1,000 articles with 355,325 data points that had approximately 1,450 findings. He synthesized this huge volume of literature to 119 studies implemented from the years 1948 to 2004 and ended up with 9 independent variables and 18 dependent variables. The relationship between teacher and student has been defined as personor learner-centered education and has also been labeled as whole-person learning using Rogerian–humanistic approaches in the classroom. Cornelius-White specifically researched six questions from the data collected to find their cumulative results for those questions. It is accepted that an r = 0.30 to r = 0.33 value would be significant at the 95% confidence level. When adding all the identified correlations, the average mean in CorneliusWhite's study was r = 0.31. This was a significant finding for the positive value of learner-centered teaching on student outcomes.

[The] observed confidence intervals will hold the true value of the parameter. After a sample is taken, the population parameter is either in the interval made or not, there is no chance. The desired level of confidence is set by the researcher (not determined by data). If a corresponding hypothesis test is performed, the confidence level corresponds with the level of significance, i.e., a 95% confidence interval reflects a significance level of 0.05, and the confidence interval contains the parameter values that, when tested, should not be rejected with the same sample. Greater levels of confidence give larger confidence intervals, and hence less precise estimates of the parameter. Confidence intervals of difference parameters not containing 0 imply that that there is a statistically significant difference between the populations. (Wikipedia, n.d., retrieved 10/21/12)

Cornelius-White's (2007) study showed additional significance when compared with a study by Fraser, Wahlberg, Welch, and Hattie (1987) and Hattie (1999), where they synthesized 134 meta-analyses with 7,827 studies and 5 to 15 million participants and where r = 0.20 for all education strategies
used to improve student learning. These authors asserted “that any correlation greater than r = 0.20 is well worth pursuing, and any correlation greater than r = 0.30 should be of much interest.” Hence, at a broad level the meta-analysis performed by Cornelius-White showed that “learner-centered relationships are well worth pursuing” (Cornelius-White, p. 130).

When Cornelius-White (2007) specifically examined affective and behavioral outcomes, he found significant correlations between participation and initiation with learner-centered pedagogy with an r = 0.55. There were additional positive correlations with student motivation (r = 0.32) and student satisfaction (r = 0.44). He also found a correlation to a reduction in dropouts (r = 0.35) and a reduction in disruptive behavior and absences (r = 0.25).

In addition to testing a particular teaching method, some have studied student learning styles and how these might impact acceptance of certain teaching methods to include affective pedagogy. Mather and Champagne (2008) discussed how complex this subject is, as most faculty in higher education are not educated formally as teachers. Mather and Champagne's study explored the impact of learning styles combined with a teacher's pedagogy and its impact on learning. Mather and Champagne referenced research that showed learning styles affect comprehension, classroom performance, study strategies, and test-taking techniques, and they explored specific learning styles and how these students interpreted what they read.

Mather and Champagne (2008) studied undergraduates at the University of Lethbridge who were in their third year of college. They studied 436 students in health sciences, social sciences, management, and science courses. The authors examined ten courses from each of these four areas, and six trained independent faculty examined the courses for learning–teaching strategies. The students were assessed for learning styles, and then the researchers correlated student's perceptions of the learning methods provided during the classes they completed. These authors found that student learning was genuinely heterogeneous with themes found with certain groups of students. These authors identified that science students do not typically value feeling and intuitive pedagogy (affective pedagogy). The science students were primarily male; however, both males and females had similar results if they were science majors. Education and engineering faculty almost exclusively preferred to teach using clear organized lecturing format with minimal affective methods. This study was very confusing in its conclusions, but what was evident is that students' styles vary dramatically and teachers tend to use what they know regardless of what would best serve the student. Faculty do not vary their teaching methods for the types of students in the classroom. In addition, a warning to students is suggested by these authors, where there is little value in knowing your learning style unless faculty consider varying their pedagogy based on the class mix (Cuthbert, 2005).

Very little research is being conducted presently on affective teaching or on its use as a measurement for an outcome involving teaching methods. It is
unfortunate, but there has been an obvious slowing after the heavy focus found in the mid-1990s. Although not mentioned as a cause for this phenomenon, there may be a waning process regarding the value of separating learning into cognitive and affective domains, as suggested in earlier chapters. Whatever the reason, we are not seeing any resurgence of affective pedagogical studies on student learning outcomes.

Affective Teaching and EI Impact on Nursing

Chapter 10 is dedicated to the impact of EI and SEL on nursing affective pedagogy and effective teaching and provides an excellent summary of its value stemming from Palmer's work. For this chapter, however, it is useful to have a brief introduction to the value of EI and SEL in nursing education. Palmer (2007) called using such teacher self-awareness and regulation as good teaching and identifies the following as characteristics of good teaching:

■ A capacity to combine structure or intentionality with flexibility in both planning and leading the class: clarity about the objectives but openness to various ways of achieving them

■ Thorough knowledge of the material assigned to the students and a commitment to helping them master that material

■ A desire to help the students build a bridge between the academic text and their own lives and a strategic approach for doing so

■ A respect for students' stories that is no more or less than the respect for the scholarly texts assigned to them

■ An ability to see students' lives more clearly than they themselves see them, a capacity to look beyond their initial self-presentation, and a desire to help them see themselves more deeply

■ An aptitude for asking good questions and listening carefully to students' responses—not only to what they say but also to what they leave unsaid

■ A willingness to take risks, especially the risk of inviting open dialogue, since one can never know where it is going to take us (pp. 71–72)

Palmer's characteristics allow us to correlate effective teaching, SEL goals, and what some might consider to be exceptional teachers. Please refer to Chapter 10 for more detail on this correlation.

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