Rescuing Emotion from the Margins of Social Work Education
Based on advances in brain imaging technology that provide evidence that emotion plays a critical role in learning and integrating new knowledge, this dissertation presents three articles to assist social work educators in developing an understanding of the emotional processes of learning and how they impact students.
The first conceptual article provides a brief overview of findings from brain science that demonstrate the importance of emotion in learning, challenging the enduring cognitive bias in higher education. Barriers to engaging student emotions are identified and discussed, and the philosophy of Humanism is used to articulate the connection between emotional expression and personal empowerment.
The second article uses the research method, Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) to reflect upon my own experiences of marginalization and how these experiences ultimately impacted my teaching. Central to this narrative are the ways that emotion goes underground making it difficult for both teacher and students to use their voices in social work education. The four major components of SPN – pre-search, me-search, research and we-search are also explicated.
The third article describes an experiential learning technique, the "invisible consultant" that helps students experience and manage their emotions during in-class role plays. This technique is congruent with social work values and also helps students develop practice skills.
Using the humanistic paradigm and experiential learning theory as its’ conceptual framework, this banded dissertation provides practical tools for educators as well as a conceptual foundation for attending to emotion in higher education, thus rescuing it from the margins.