Feel, think, teach – Emotional Underpinnings of Approaches to Teaching in Higher Education

Robert Kordts-Freudinger


The paper investigates relations between higher education teachers’ approaches to teaching and their emotions during teaching, as well as their emotion regulation strategies. Based on the assumption that the approaches hinge on emotional experiences with higher education teaching and learning, three studies assessed teachers’ emotions, their emotion regulation strategies and their approaches to teaching with questionnaires. Study 1, with n = 145 German university teachers and teaching assistants, found relations between positive emotions and the student-oriented approach to teaching, but not with negative emotions. In addition, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression were related to the student-oriented approach. Study 2, with n = 198 German teachers, replicated these findings and, in addition, found relations between perspective taking, empathic concern and personal distress, and the student-oriented approach. Study 3, with n = 76 Australian and New Zealand teachers, again replicated and extended the findings by establishing a relation between negative emotions and the content-oriented approach to teaching. The results of all studies together indicate a significant emotional component of the approaches to teaching. Positive emotions are not only directly related to the student-oriented approach, but also partially mediate the relation between cognitive reappraisal and the student-oriented approach. This link seems to generalize to emotional components of empathy. In addition, the cultural-educational context seems to moderate the relations between negative emotions and the content-oriented approach to teaching. Limitations and directions for future research and educational practice are discussed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v6n1p217


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International Journal of Higher Education
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