The Role of Affect in Learning (page 2)
After spending a decade researching the attributes of influential and motivating literacy teachers, Robert Ruddell (1995) determined that across the grade levels, elementary through college, the most effective teachers guided their students through an intellectual discovery process and encouraged them to negotiate meaning as members of an interpretive classroom community. To create that community, the teacher must promote an affective investment on the part of his or her students. Tchudi and Mitchell (1999) note that "Too often the affective domain in secondary classrooms is pooh-poohed and dismissed as nonessential". However, research indicates that affect is just as critical a dimension of learning as cognition. As Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia point out in their Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Affective Domain (1964), nearly all cognitive objectives have an affective counterpart. These researchers liken the interdependence of the affective and cognitive domains to a man scaling a wall via two intertwining stepladders:
The ladders are so constructed that the rungs of one ladder fall between the rungs of the other. The attainment of some complex goal is made possible by alternately climbing a rung on one ladder, which brings the rung of the next ladder within reach. Thus alternating between the affective and the cognitive domains, one may seek a cognitive goal using the attainment of a cognitive goal to raise interest (an affective goal). This permits the achievement of a higher cognitive goal, and so on.
One of the first and most essential rungs in the ladder is an affective one—attention. Within the affective domain, the student moves up the continuum from passively receiving information to actively attending to it; willingly responding and taking satisfaction in responding; valuing and making a commitment to the activity and/or the response; conceptualizing and internalizing beliefs and values; and, finally, organizing and creating a value system that integrates beliefs, ideas, and attitudes into a total philosophy or worldview (Krathwohl et al., 1964, pp. 176–185). How does one create a classroom environment that encourages students to actively attend to, take satisfaction in, and value what they are learning while developing what Jerome Bruner (1960) calls "an appropriate set of attitudes and values about intellectual activities in general"? Most researchers agree that it all begins with building a community of learners; and building a community involves, first, creating a shared sense of place.
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