What is the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in school?
Moeller, J., Brackett, M., Ivcevic, Z., & White, A. (2020). High school students’ emotions: Discoveries from a large national survey and an experience sampling study. Learning and Instruction. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2019.101301
We investigated students’ feelings at high school in a nation-wide survey of 21,678 US students (study 1), and in a four-week study using experience sampling methodology (ESM) with 472 students across 5 high schools (study 2). Both studies combined mixed methods, including open-ended questions and rating scales (e.g., PANAS). In study 1, seventy-five percent of the feelings students reported in their responses to open-ended questions were negative. The three most frequently mentioned feelings were “tired”, “stressed”, and “bored”. Similar findings emerged with rated items, The prevalence of negative feelings was largely similar across demographic groups. Study 2 largely corroborated the findings from study 1. Although the retrospective measures showed similar results to study 1, the in-the-moment measures also showed frequent positive feelings. We discuss the findings in light of the ‘sleep deprivation epidemic’, the school engagement literature, and implications for the validity of state- and trait measures of academic emotions.
Moeller, J., Ivcevic, Z., White, A. E., & Brackett, M. A. (2018). Mixed emotions: Network analyses of intra-individual co-occurrences within and across situations. Emotion, 18(8), 1106-112.
This study revisits the structure of emotions by employing a co-occurrence network analysis. While previous studies have examined the structure of emotions primarily through inter-individual correlations, we investigated how often and which specific positive and negative emotions occur together within individuals. Two studies were conducted with high school students, one (N=21,678) using retrospective emotion measures (open-ended questions and 28 rated items) and the other (N = 472) using in-the-moment emotion measures (experience sampling). As in previous studies, positive and negative emotion ratings were negatively correlated across individuals, and this negative correlation became stronger when measurement error was controlled. Nevertheless, network analyses of both the open-ended responses and of emotion rating scales found frequent co-occurrences between both positive and negative emotions within individuals and within situations. Across all networks, happy, tired, and stressed were among the most frequent emotions that occurred together with emotions of opposite valence. The network analyses presented in this article open new directions to the long-lasting debate about the structure of emotions by revealing co-occurrences that inter-individual correlations would not show.This study revisits the structure of emotions by employing a co-occurrence network analysis. While previous studies have examined the structure of emotions primarily through inter-individual correlations, we investigated how often and which specific positive and negative emotions occur together within individuals. Two studies were conducted with high school students, one (N=21,678) using retrospective emotion measures (open-ended questions and 28 rated items) and the other (N = 472) using in-the-moment emotion measures (experience sampling). As in previous studies, positive and negative emotion ratings were negatively correlated across individuals, and this negative correlation became stronger when measurement error was controlled. Nevertheless, network analyses of both the open-ended responses and of emotion rating scales found frequent co-occurrences between both positive and negative emotions within individuals and within situations. Across all networks, happy, tired, and stressed were among the most frequent emotions that occurred together with emotions of opposite valence. The network analyses presented in this article open new directions to the long-lasting debate about the structure of emotions by revealing co-occurrences that inter-individual correlations would not show.
Hoffmann, J. D., Ivcevic, Z., & Brackett, M. A. (2018). Building emotionally intelligent schools: From preschool to high school and beyond. Springer Handbook of Emotional Intelligence in Education (pp. 173-198). New York: Springer.
Despite best attempts, the idea of "leaving your emotions at the door" denies decades of research on the function of emotions. When schools embrace and support the emotions of their students and educators, they create a climate where people feel secure, appreciated, and inspired. The ability-based theory of emotional intelligence maintains that the skills of perceiving, using, understanding, and regulating emotions can be improved through instruction and practice. As consensus builds that we must teach "the whole child", social and emotional learning (SEL) become more integrated into our schools, and emotionally intelligent teaching practices become the norm. In this chapter, we briefly outline the need for SEL in schools, then share implementation strategies and current research on one evidence-based approach to SEL, RULER, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is a setting-level SEL program, which posits that by changing the climate of the classroom, youth outcomes will also improve, including academic engagement and achievement, as well as relationships among students and adults. We then describe adaptations of RULER for high school, preschool, and families. Example activities and lesson ideas for integrating SEL into all aspects of school life are provided throughout.
Evans, P., Martin, A. J., & Ivcevic, Z. (2018). Personality, coping, and school wellbeing: An investigation of high school students. Social Psychology of Education.
With a growing interest in well-being as an outcome of schooling, there is an increased need for research on how to enable it in students’ academic lives. This study examined personality and coping strategies as predictors of students’ well-being outcomes at school using structural equation modelling. Students (N = 328) completed measures of personality and coping strategies, and then approximately 6 months later reported on their satisfaction with school and subjective well-being. Results indicated that, along with personality and sociodemographics, productive coping strategies were associated with school satisfaction and subjective well-being 6 months later. The findings suggest that coping strategies used by adolescents to deal with the stresses of school have important consequences. Interventions to increase school students’ use of productive coping strategies may have meaningful impacts on their well-being.
Bazhydai, M., Ivcevic, Z., Widen, S., & Brackett, M. A. (2018). Emotion vocabulary in early adolescents. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality
Studies of emotion vocabulary and understanding typically focus on early childhood. Yet, emotion abilities continue to develop into adolescence, making it an important and underinvestigated area of research. This study presents evidence that adolescents’ emotion vocabulary undergoes active development, becomes more broad and sophisticated, varies by gender, and is not captured adequately by recognition-based approaches. Adolescents were asked to generate emotion words for five emotion categories—happy, relaxed, angry, sad, and nervous. Responses included emotion words (e.g., joyous) and nonemotion terms such as metaphors (e.g., boiling), social experiences (e.g., underappreciated), and personality traits (e.g., shy). Girls generated significantly more responses than boys. Older adolescents generated significantly more emotion words (e.g., describing someone who is happy as joyful, exuberant or ecstatic), while younger adolescents produced more nonemotion responses (e.g., describing someone who is happy as smiley, friendly, or full of life). Students’ grade, total number of responses they produced, and performance on the recognition test of emotion understanding predicted their emotion vocabulary.
White, A., Moeller, J., Ivcevic, Z., & Brackett, M. A. (2018). Gender identity and sexual orientation labels used by U.S. high school students: A co-occurrence network analysis. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. 5(2), 243-252.
In a survey of 19,385 U.S. high school students, we investigated which labels students used to describe their gender and sexual identities, and which of these labels were mentioned together. The survey offered five pre-defined categories for gender identity (male, female, trans male, trans female or “different”), and four categories for sexual identity (heterosexual/straight, lesbian/gay, bisexual, or “other”). Adolescents were invited to provide their own labels if the offered categories did not adequately describe their identity. Most participants who opted to use the open-ended fields provided a single label, but some provided up to four. All open-ended responses were counted and subjected to a co-occurrence network analysis, where co-occurrence was defined as two labels being mentioned together by the same student. Analysis identified two distinct sub-networks or clusters: the first included primarily pre-defined traditional labels of gender identity and sexual identity, and the second included student-generated labels reported in the open-ended response fields, indicating that “different” gender identities and “other” sexual identities are often mentioned together. The use and implications of these labels are discussed.
White, A., Moeller, J., Ivcevic, Z., Brackett, M. A., & Stern, R. S. (2018). LGBTQ adolescents’ positive and negative emotions and experiences in U.S. high schools. Sex Roles, 79(9-10), 594–608. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0885-1
In a national survey of more than 19,000 U.S. high school students, we compared how LGBTQ youth and their non-LGBTQ peers felt at school and how they perceived social and academic experiences. We examined differences in emotions and school experiences across gender identities, sexual identities, and their intersections. LGBTQ adolescents reported significantly more frequent negative emotions and bullying, consistent with previous research. LGBTQ students also reported less frequent experiences of positive emotions at school and less frequent positive school experiences (i.e., positive peer and teacher relationships, subjective task value, and persistence support). Students who were both gender and sexual identity minority reported the most frequent negative and least frequent positive experiences at school, compared to students who were neither a gender or sexual identity minority. Analyses of the intersection of gender and sexual identity showed that heterosexual male students experienced more frequent positive emotions and school experiences, and fewer negative emotions and bullying, compared to all other groups. We discuss how these differences might be addressed through school interventions and future research.
Ivcevic, Z., & Brackett, M. (2014). Predicting school success: Comparing Conscientiousness, Grit, and Emotion Regulation Ability. Journal of Research in Personality. 52, 29-36.
The present paper examines validity of three proposed self-regulation predictors of school outcomes – Conscientiousness, Grit and Emotion Regulation Ability (ERA). In a sample of private high school students (N= 213) we measured these constructs along with indices of school success obtained from records (rule violating behavior, academic recognitions, honors, and GPA) and self-reported satisfaction with school. Regression analyses showed that after controlling for other Big Five traits, all school outcomes were significantly predicted by Conscientiousness and ERA, but not Grit. The discussion focuses on the importance of broad personality traits (Conscientiousness; measure of typical performance) and self-regulation abilities (ERA; measure of maximal performance) in predicting school success