Less anxiety, more activity
“On this particular course, I also used extended learning analytics to support teaching, which means that at the beginning of each class, I asked all students to take a short questionnaire charting their studies-related emotions, for example.”
These emotions-related statements were then used by Sointu, alongside learning analytics, to support students. If a student already at the beginning or later on found the course to cause anxiety or to be boring, and learning analytics also revealed that things weren’t progressing smoothly, it was easy for the teacher to intervene and offer help.
“In those cases, I would contact the student and ask how they were doing, and usually they would confess to not coping with the assignment alone and needing help. Sometimes, the emotional reaction was very strong, involving even crying and fears of the difficult course preventing graduation.”
Some students also reported that their earlier learning challenges had an impact on the completion of this particular course.
Sointu was then able to apply his skills as a special education teacher, i.e., to listen, discuss, offer support and apply various teaching approaches. If necessary, he and the student would go through everything step by step and think about how to pass the course as well as possible.
“According to our research data, this approach clearly reduced students’ anxiety. It also improved learning, and previously passive students became more active.”
According to Sointu, negative emotions can be either activating or passivating. When teachers have the right know-how, emotions can be steered in a desired direction. In a best-case scenario, a student will pick up the courage and start using their strengths. In other words, they evolve from a passive learner to an active student.
“This is one of the reasons why the development of, and support for, education should be partially based on special education also in universities.”