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Uncovering the Role of Emotion in Engineering Education within an Integrated Curricular Experience

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Making Students Aware of Their World: Five Perspectives

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1560.1 - 22.1560.11



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Paper Authors


Nadia N. Kellam University of Georgia

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Nadia Kellam is an Assistant Professor and engineering educational researcher in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Georgia. She is co-director of the CLUSTER research group. Her research interests include interdisciplinarity, creativity, identity formation, and the role of emotion in cognition.

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Tracie Costantino University of Georgia


Joachim Walther University of Georgia

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Joachim is an assistant professor of engineering education research at the University of Georgia (UGA). He is one of the leaders of the Collaborative Lounge for Understanding Society and Technology through Educational Research (CLUSTER), an interdisciplinary research group with members from engineering, art, and educational psychology.

His research interests span the formation of students' professional identity, the role of reflection in engineering learning, and interpretive research methods in engineering education.

He was the first international recipient of the ASEE Educational Research Methods Division's "Apprentice Faculty Award", was selected as a 2010 Frontiers in Education "New Faculty Fellow", and is currently a UGA "Lilly Teaching Fellow".

His teaching focuses on innovative approaches to introducing systems thinking and creativity into the environmental engineering program. In this context, he is involved in the development and implementation of the Synthesis and Design Studio series at UGA.

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Nicki Wendy Sochacka University of Georgia

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Nicki Sochacka is completing her doctorate at the University of Queensland. Her research interests span socio-technical transitions, with a particular focus on sustainable urban water management, and integrating socio-technical methods of inquiry into engineering practice and education. She currently holds a research and teaching position at the University of Georgia.

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The Role of Emotion in Student Learning within an Integrated Curricular ExperienceThe purpose of this paper is to uncover the role of emotion within an integrated curricularexperience (published elsewhere) and how emotion impacts student learning. Preliminary dataanalysis indicates that emotions were often present during student’s critical learning incidents.This qualitative research study involves a deeper analysis of data collected over two semesters ofan interdisciplinary design studio to identify the types of emotions described, the triggers ofthese emotions, and the learning that the students attributed to these emotions.Recently there has been an increase in the amount of research exploring emotions in education(Schutz & Pekrun, 2007). Furthermore, there have been recent developments in neurosciencethat point to emotion’s critical role in learning and decision-making (Immordino-Yang &Damasio, 2007). As engineering educators this recent research on the role of emotion ineducation is very relevant to us as we are preparing engineering graduates to make decisions andto contribute to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Any engineering educatorintuitively knows the role of emotion in teaching. For example, when an experienced instructorasks a question, he or she knows that by waiting through the uncomfortable silence after asking aquestion, students will begin to share responses to that question. There is, however, a lack ofresearch and discussion of the role of emotion within engineering education. To address thislack of research, a multi-dimensional model of affect that takes into account the intersection ofactivation and pleasantness will be described and will provide the framework for the discussionof emotion in the remaining paper (Linnenbrink, 2007).This study involves examining emotions, triggers, and learning from the student perspectivewithin the context of an interdisciplinary, project-based design studio as implemented in 2009and 2010. This qualitative research study consisted of an interpretive analysis of individualreflection reports written by each student after participating in multiple reflective activities overthe course of one semester. The authors used a phenomenological approach to the analysis ofthis data and thus focused the analysis to the structural descriptions (what happened, from thestudent’s perspective) and the textural descriptions (how this happened and how it contributed totheir learning).The analysis of this data indicates that emotions at the high end of the activation spectrum, forexample angry, tense, and excited, were described by the students as leading to critical learningincidents. The triggers described include ambiguous, open-ended projects, debates, and the orderof presentation of workshops within the scope of the project timeline and will be described inmore detail in the full paper. Based on these results, the authors will also discuss thecharacteristics of the integrated curricula that align with high activation emotions that could betransferred to other curricula.Note to reviewers: This could be either a traditional paper presentation or could be the basis for amore innovative session/ workshop type format. For example, we could have the attendeescreate a stop-motion animation video explaining their understanding of an integrated curricula(or something from the class) and then reflect on our emotions and learning throughout theactivity.ReferencesImmordino-Yang, M. H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education. Mind, Brain, and Education, 1(1), 3- 10.Linnenbrink, E. A. (2007). The Role of Affect in Student Learning: A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Considering the Interaction of Affect, Motivation, and Engagement. In P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds.), Emotion in Education (pp. 107-124). New York: Elsevier.Schutz, P. A., & Pekrun, R. (Eds.). (2007). Emotion in Education (1 ed.). New York: Elsevier.

Kellam, N. N., & Costantino, T., & Walther, J., & Sochacka, N. W. (2011, June), Uncovering the Role of Emotion in Engineering Education within an Integrated Curricular Experience Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18819

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