Happiness online : supporting the emotions of emergent teachers in a virtual community

Mills, Kathy A. (2014) Happiness online : supporting the emotions of emergent teachers in a virtual community. In AARE-NZARE 2014 : Speaking Back through Research, 30 November - 4 December 2014, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

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Extending Lash and Urry's (1994) notion of new "imagined communities" through information and communication structures, I ask the question: Are emergent teachers happy when they interact in online learning environments? This question is timely in the context of the ubiquity of online media and its pervasiveness in teachers' everyday work and lives.

The research is important nationally and internationally, because the current research is contradictory. On the one hand, feelings of isolation and frustration have been cited as common emotions experienced in many online environments (Su, Bonk, Magjuka, Liu, & Lee, 2005). Yet others report that online communities encourage a sense of belonging and support (Mills, 2011). Emotions are inherently social, are central to learning and online interaction (Shen, Wang, & Shen, 2009).

The presentations reports the use of e-motion blogs to explore emotional states of emergent primary teachers in an online learning context as they transition into their first field experience in schools. The original research was conducted with a graduate class of 64 secondary science pre-service teachers in Science Education Curriculum Studies in a large Australian university, including males and females from a variety of cultural backgrounds, aged 17-55 years. Online activities involved the participants watching a series of streamed live lectures within a course of 8 weeks duration, providing a varied set of learning experiences, such as viewing live teaching demonstrations. Each week, participants provided feedback on learning by writing and posting an e-motion diary or web log about their emotional response. The blogs answered the question: What emotions you experience during this learning experience?

The descriptive data set included 284 online posts, with students contributing multiple entries. The Language of Appraisal framework, following Martin and White (2005), was used to cluster the discrete emotions within six affect groups. The findings demonstrated that the pre-service teachers' emotional responses tended towards happiness and satisfaction within the typology of affect groups - un/happiness, in/security, and dis/satisfaction. Fewer participants reported that online learning mode triggered negative feelings of frustration, and when this occurred, it often pertained expectations of themselves in the forthcoming field experience in schools or as future teachers.

The findings primarily contribute new understanding about emotional states in online communities, and recommendations are provided for supporting the happiness and satisfaction of emergent teachers as they interact in online communities. It demonstrates that online environments can play an important role in fulfilling teachers' need for social interaction and inclusion.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 79367
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The author and publisher
Deposited On: 11 Dec 2014 02:39
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 02:34

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