Numerous research studies have shown that emotion plays a critical role in learning. Fortunately, this is intuitive: negative emotions often hurt a child’s ability to learn while positive emotions generally help. This is true in all types of learning, whether in person or online. And it has been validated that online learning in particular can be replete with the positive emotion necessary for effective learning. Emotion is not the enemy of reason, it turns out. It just depends on what type of emotion we’re talking about.
In one study, titled “Emotional Presence, Learning, and the Online Learning Environment”, the authors summarized both a variety of earlier studies, and then conducted their own study, to validate this conclusion (Cleveland-Innes, 2012). Another 2017 study noted that, “Emotion has a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving.” (Tyng, 2017) Emotion is especially important when it comes to attention, which is fundamentally linked to the learning process. Educator Ruth Weiss writes that, “The more that neuroscientists explore how our brains process, store, and retrieve information, the more evident is the connection between emotion and reason. Scientists have discovered that the same areas of the brain that are involved in processing emotion are also involved in processing memory.” (Weiss, 2000)