In The Spark of Learning, Sarah Rose Cavanagh describes a study where students were asked to rate professors after seeing 30-second videos of lectures that had no audio. The students’ ratings predicted with surprising accuracy the professors’ actual end-of-semester evaluations. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that in teaching – as in most human interactions – how people “feel” about how we present ourselves matters. Cavanagh reviews evidence from neuroscience, psychology, and education to argue convincingly that if we activate positive emotions (interest, curiosity, and wonder) and minimize the negative ones (anxiety, frustration, and boredom), we can boost student performance.
Sarah Rose Cavanagh, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (Morgantown, WV, West Virginia University Press, 2016), 63.