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Emotionally intense science activities

King, D., Ritchie, S., Sandhu, M. and Henderson, S. (2015) Emotionally intense science activities. International Journal of Science Education, 37 (12). pp. 1886-1914.

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Science activities that evoke positive emotional responses make a difference to students’ emotional experience of science. In this study, we explored 8th Grade students’ discrete emotions expressed during science activities in a unit on Energy. Multiple data sources including classroom videos, interviews and emotion diaries completed at the end of each lesson were analysed to identify individual student's emotions. Results from two representative students are presented as case studies. Using a theoretical perspective drawn from theories of emotions founded in sociology, two assertions emerged. First, during the demonstration activity, students experienced the emotions of wonder and surprise; second, during a laboratory activity, students experienced the intense positive emotions of happiness/joy. Characteristics of these activities that contributed to students’ positive experiences are highlighted. The study found that choosing activities that evoked strong positive emotional experiences, focused students’ attention on the phenomenon they were learning, and the activities were recalled positively. Furthermore, such positive experiences may contribute to students’ interest and engagement in science and longer term memorability. Finally, implications for science teachers and pre-service teacher education are suggested.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: 2015 Taylor & Francis
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