Teaching and Emotions

This entry is part of the course ONL192 (topic 4 “Blended Learning / Design”)

In which way can emotions facilitate students’ learning experience? How can they create more commitment in students and in which way do they help the course to be completed by a majority of participants rather than a few?

This entry, as part of my course work for the ONL course 192, addressed emotional presence online learning environments (“Topic 4” of the course). Learning about emotions in the classroom in a conventional course on online pedagogies, outside of a Gender Studies context, was highly surprising, wildly interesting and really productive for considering my own design for future online courses.

As a lecturer in Gender Studies, the connection between teaching, learning and emotion is obvious. Emotions are a significant part of every class, feminist theory has for a long time emphasised the close links between feelings, learning through emotions, embodied knowledge and rational learning. While academic knowledge production traditionally privileges rationality and detached, non-situated positivist knowledge production, Gender Studies jointly with other fields of study that originated through a critique of conventional knowledge production and its erasures.

Encountering the relevance of emotion in the modern classroom, and particular the online learning environment is thus exciting and gratifying. It confirms an otherwise marginalised idea of the significance of collectivity, connection, relationality and commitment in learning.

Vaughan/Cleveland-Innes and Garrison outline in their book the three significant elements of presence, teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence (2013). These are part of their developed framework called Community of Inquiry (COI):

A community of inquiry is where “students listen to one another with respect, build on one another’s ideas, challenge one another to supply reasons for otherwise unsupported opinions, assist each other in drawing inferences from what has been said, and seek to identify one another’s assumptions.” (Vaughan et al., 2013).

COI is structured by emotional presence in three elements:

  • Social presence
  • Teaching presence
  • Cognitive presence

I will not elaborate these three elements in detail here but only those I find particularly remarkable and want to remember for my own classroom design.

In relation to teaching presence Vaughan et al. outline 7 principles that are important for a teacher to consider when designing a course:

  1. Encourage contact between students and faculty.
  2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
  3. Encourage active learning
  4. Give prompt feedback.
  5. Emphasize time on task.
  6. Communicate high expectations.
  7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.

Teaching Presence

  • This is achieved through a new way of approaching and offering teaching and learning
  • It requires a rethinking of the role of teacher and the role of student.
  • The classroom becomes a collaborative learning space with different levels of responsibility, social and emotional presence for all participants.



Vaughan, N.D., Cleveland-Innes, M. and Garrison, D. R. (2013) Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press.

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2019) “Emotion and learning – emotional presence in the Community of Inquiry framework (CoI).






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Teacher and researcher in Gender Studies with a specialization in the field of Transgender Studies!

2 thoughts on “Teaching and Emotions”

  1. Hi Wibke,

    Thanks for your post. I have also been very pleasantly surprised by the prominence of emotions in this course—it’s made me re-think my teaching in general. I had recently noticed again that Bloom’s original taxonomy included affective and psycho-motor domains along with the cognitive, but, as you say, academic teaching and research overwhelmingly privilege the cognitive domain.

    I teach English for Academic Purposes, so I’m very conscious of my potential to reproduce language ideologies. I think that reflecting on the emotional dimensions of learning (both the learning process itself and the subject matter) is a powerful way to make these ideologies legible, and the ONL course has given me reflective space to explicitly formulate that position, as well as legitimizing it within a general pedagogical research base. In other words, in asking students to talk about their emotions, I no longer feel that I’m struggling from a far-left position against institutional reproductions of prejudice; rather, I am simply trying to implement recent orthodox research about the Community of Inquiry. This makes life easier!

    Your online MA course sounds very interesting. Will it be open to the general public as a MOOC at some point?


    1. Thank you for the comments! Yes, very interesting this entangled existence of emotions and teaching in particular in the online space! And yes, the course will hopefully be a MOOC from up 2021… a question of resources and good planning 🙂

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