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Confronted By Students: Dealing With Anger, Frustration And More Pleasant Emotions In Office Hours And In Class

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Off the Beaten Path

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.324.1 - 13.324.8



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Paper Authors


Rebecca Bates Minnesota State University-Mankato

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Rebecca Anne Bates received the B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University in 1990, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Boston University in 1996 and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in 2004. She also received the M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1993. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include speech recognition and understanding as well as engineering education, with an emphasis on student learning and educational methods.

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Denise Wilson University of Washington

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Confronted by Students: Dealing with Anger, Frustration and More Pleasant Emotions in Office Hours and in Class Abstract

One of the most challenging and unexpected aspects of a new professor’s career is dealing with student emotions. Emotions, especially anger and frustration, can have an impact on student success and willingness to stay engaged with course content. Successfully implementing strategies for dealing with student emotions can result in improved academic outcomes. This paper addresses the impact of student emotions and suggests strategies for faculty to use when interacting with students.


The impact of student emotions on learning is rarely discussed in faculty preparation workshops. Guidebooks suggest ways to write syllabi, plan lessons and incorporate active learning strategies but rarely present ways to address the emotions that students experience in the course of their academic careers. Thus, dealing with student emotions is often unexpected and definitely challenging for faculty. Most new faculty are unprepared for students who arrive at office hours stewing with anger, roiling in frustration, bogged down with sadness or giddy with excitement. While the latter encounter is easier to address (and less likely to stop a student from accomplishing his or her academic goals), the entire emotional package comes with each and every student and can have an impact on student success. This effect is especially obvious in engineering and computer science, where students are asked to be at the edge of their learning capacity and rarely spend significant “musing” time on newly acquired information before needing to move on to digesting the next topic.

It is helpful for all faculty to be aware of the effects of the student’s emotional fabric as he/she moves through the program, although women faculty often experience student emotions more frequently via connections with both male and female students. Being prepared for confrontations and developing abilities to recognize and defuse situations to insure productive learning experiences will help set up a successful faculty career. As important, faculty need to have in place appropriate scaffolding and support to sustain the transfer of negative emotions that students often, unwittingly, place on faculty.

This paper addresses the issue of student emotions and how they can affect student-faculty rapport and subsequently, academic outcomes including grades, team performance and cognitive/intellectual growth. We focus on viable strategies for faculty to acknowledge and address student emotions while remaining within their capacity to do so.


Unlike many other fields of research in education, little effort has been directed at understanding affective experience and its impact on engineering education; for example, of over 42,000 publications in engineering education between 1990 and 2007, approximately 0.2% investigate

Bates, R., & Wilson, D. (2008, June), Confronted By Students: Dealing With Anger, Frustration And More Pleasant Emotions In Office Hours And In Class Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4427

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