#Emotional Change- Alternative to #Conceptual Change “#Learning” in #Science #Education?

Learning in science education has been dominated by perspectives focused on conceptual change. Some of my recent work reveals ways of understanding learning from a perspective I have called emotional change:

“Emotional change—that is, swings in EC [emotional climate] and changes in emotions associated with learning episodes—is a conceptual tool that may afford researchers a different perspective on learning from the dominant conceptual perspective that has so far informed our understandings. The emotional changes observed in our study included high positive EC and gaiety/joy/happiness/ surprise/wonder when the class was engaged during the presentation of role-plays and aspects of the POE, to low positive EC and attentiveness during the pre- and post-demonstration discussions and during teaching reflections. Collectively these emotional fluctuations constitute the high quality learning experiences reported in this study.” (Bellocchi et. al., 2014, p. 22).



Emotional climate in university classroom and high quality learning experiences

This study reports university students’ perceptions of classroom #emotional #climate and high #quality #learning experiences. A multi-theoretical framework based on #sociology of #emotion and social interaction informed the study. Multiple methods of data production were used to investigate collective emotional arousal (or emotional climate) and individual emotions.


Reviewing Methods for Sociological Inquiry on Emotions in Education

I have recently published an article that reviews a range of methods used for sociological inquiry on emotions in educational settings. The article outlines some recent applications of multiple methods including facial expression analysis, prosodic analysis, self-reports and observational techniques for documenting emotional experiences during natural interactions. Considerations are made for the benefits and limitations of different approaches as well as using multiple methods within single studies. The article offers examples from published studies as well as some original examples of techniques used to access emotions as they occur in regular classrooms.

Methods designed to explore emotional climate (a collective state of emotional arousal) as well as individuals’ discrete emotions are presented.


Access the accepted version here:

Accepted Bellocchi Methods Inquiry on Emotion

The print version of the article will appear in the journal Emotion Review (2015), Vol.7, No. 2.

For Sale? Residual Practices in Education and Life.


Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the bus reached one of the final stops before my block, I couldn’t help but noticing the For Sale sign in front of a house. Immediately I started to wonder how much they were asking, how many bedrooms, bathrooms and garage spaces it had, and whether or not it is a better buy than my purchase from a few years ago.

When I arrived at my stop, I reflected on how this habit of thinking about properties had formed over the many years of inspecting houses before I had finally decided to buy. My wife and I had inspected so many homes that we could confidently size-up a place and decide on a fairly accurate estimate of the asking price.

Despite now owning my own home, and being satisfied with it, the practice of “sizing up a home” was still with me. I came to think of this as a residual practice.

This brief reflection and experience opened a floodgate of memories, recent as well as not so recent, of how my experiences as a teacher and lecturer are not so different from the For Sale episode.

Often, when I had changed aspects of my practices I would catch myself every now and again reproducing practices of the past. A residue of those practices with which I was no longer satisfied had remained.

This drew my attention to the fact that I could also identify residual practices in many other aspects of my life. Perhaps they are simply a part of the human condition. I can even recall one of my high school friends, who was a bit of an artist, once complaining about his drawing technique with a comment to the effect of: “Arrgh why did I just do that? That’s the old way of doing things!”

He had managed to catch himself in-the-moment of reproducing one of his past drawing practices that he no longer valued. In the next moment, he switched to his new practice. He had completed a transformational move.

From an educational point of view, residual practices ,in my experience, were a form of lived history of my teaching which was continuing to rear its head. This made me think that perhaps to achieve the complete transformation of our practices, educational or otherwise, we need to be mindful of our residual practices, and look to ways of diminishing them.

Satisfaction with the new practice does not seem to remove a residual practice that, like my For Sale practice, has been developed over years.

I guess we should be mindful of what we practice in the first place- repetition will only reinforce it and make it more challenging to change it.

A Machiavellian Perspective on “Keeping Up” in Academia

This post extends the conversation started by @SocProf on Twitter in relation to the article by Steve Hall and Simon Winlow “Please keep up, sociology” available at http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/14401.

The basic argument in the article is that Sociology as a discipline has become censored and elitist rendering the discipline into a sausage factory. New and young researchers are expected to churn out facsimiles of prior work with clear connections to the discipline’s “elite.” The authors argue that contemporary and young/new researchers and thinkers have made valuable contributions to the field and should receive the same attention as the elite.

In my own response to @SocProf, I alluded to the fact that not only Sociology is affected by the kinds of circumstances described by Hall and Winlow, but all of academia. After all, once research became part of a profession, this paved the way for formalising the way in which research, and other aspects of the profession, would be conducted. The whole process of disseminating research through peer-reviewed journals and conferences creates, to some extent, a normalising effect on what is considered to be acceptable or unacceptable. The kind of wisdom that is shared within academia with budding researchers captures the focus on citing any discipline’s elite. I take a fairly moderate view in this regard. Of course there is some expectation that any article or work should cite works that are considered to have made important contributions to the field where relevant. 

Nonetheless, the article and the ensuing Twitter discussion with @SocProf reminded me of something written a long time ago that is pertinent to changes within a field, albeit, with a slightly different emphasis from that intended by Hall and Winlow in their article.

I always found the following extract from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” insightful when trying to understand change and novelty in any aspect of human endeavour:

The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the existing laws on their side, and partly because men [sic] are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. In consequence, whenever those who oppose the changes can do s, they attack vigorously, and the defence made by the others is only lukewarm. (Machiavelli, 1961, p.19).

Substituting the “innovator” in Machiavelli’s account with “new researcher” and “enemies” with the “elite” of a field or discipline provides a similar argument to that of Hall and Winslow. That is, it is a statement about the challenge that innovators face when proposing ideas that are not mainstream or even based upon the established norms within a field. But Machiavelli goes further to explain that the would-be innovators face further challenges in that their supporters are at best fickle. This makes it relatively easy for the elite to continue to assert their dominance within the field.

Machiavelli goes on to distinguish between two kinds of innovators: 1) those who stand alone, and 2) those who depend on others. Of the first type of innovator he claims that they are able to achieve their purposes by forcing their issue. The second class of innovator instead relies on persuasion. In his scheme, the second class of innovator always fails. He further explains that “…all armed prophets have conquered, and unarmed prophets have come to grief” (p.19). So how is the innovator of academia to “arm” him/herself?

Well apart from the fundamentals of high quality research involving novel ideas, I would like to propose another “weapon in their arsenal”: digital/social media.

As our current discussions and deliberations take place in the new technologies made available to us freely through the internet, this allows a different kind of innovator to develop. One who has the ability to become known and perhaps even persuasive long before their first article is published in an academic journal. By applying the same principles that one would use to develop well crafted academic articles, the blogging, tweeting, wordpressing, YouTubeing, academic can get their message across to a wide range of people. Metadata provide a means for that message to spread across networks faster than anything in the formalised structures of academia can manage. Yet, I anticipate that the risk is run of becoming a type 2 innovator if the bulk of the focus remains on this kind of “persuasion.” As the formal publications start to emerge, then this enhances the power of this new arsenal as the peer-review process provides legitimacy to what is distributed through various social media. I anticipate that this latter form of communication will in fact be the most powerful way of establishing a solid reputation while at the same time benefiting from the possibilities made available from new technologies.

Case in point: Randall Collins is part of the contemporary sociological “elite.” Nonetheless, his blog “The Sociological Eye” (Yes, my blog is inspired by his) epitomises the last point in my previous paragraph. Collins uses his blog to extend his published works into new and different directions. This not only allows him to extend the works by considering new data or examples that do not appear in his published works, but it allows for the extension and revisiting of his theories through a medium that is only restricted by the time it takes him to write the blog. I would like to take his case further. In his book “Interaction Ritual Chains,” Collins does more than reify Durkheim and Goffman. He deliberately moves their ideas into a different direction to provide his innovative perspective on interaction. This is the kind of substance that makes him a Machiavellian type 1 innovator.

I am not aware of cases where someone preceded their academic reputation through their on-line “fame,” but such an individual would make an interesting case study to explore the issues raised by Hall and Winlow further.

Alberto Bellocchi


Collins, R. (2004). Interaction ritual chains. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Machiavelli, N. (1961). The prince. London: Penguin Books