Pedagogical Choices

Students’ feelings and emotional responses are important for their persistence and success. A sense of belonging and feelings of competence produce positive affective experiences and can help the formation of a science identity. Instructors can help promote positive affective experiences through successful practice experiences, opportunities for students to observe others, offering support, and using small group work.

Trujillo, G. & Tanner, K. D. (2014). Considering the role of affect in learning: Monitoring students’ self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity. CBE—Life Sciences Education 13, 6-15. This essay provides a brief overview of the role that students’ feelings and emotional responses have in their learning, focusing specifically on students’ belief that they can successfully complete the tasks of a course (self-efficacy), their sense of belonging, and their identification as a scientists. The authors give a concise review of the literature on factors that may support self-efficacy, including mastery experiences, or successful attempts to complete course tasks; social persuasion, or supportive comments from instructors or peers; and vicarious experiences, which derive from observing others. They also provide a review of tools, such as the Motivational Strategies and Learning Questionnaire, that can be used to monitor students’ self-efficacy. The essay also briefly reviews the importance of a sense of belonging for students’ persistence in college and in science, noting its importance for academic motivation, academic achievement, and well-being, and describes tools for measuring sense of belonging among biology students. The authors conclude by turning to science identity, noting that Carlone and Johnson’s model suggests that science identity is supported by recognition as a scientists by peers and instructors; competence; and performance of that competence in a public arena. They also note that interest may be a key factor for students’ development of a science identity. This essay has particular value as an entry point for instructors beginning to consider how their students’ affective experiences can contribute to and limit their learning.

Fostering a sense of belonging
Promoting engagement and self-efficacy

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Cite this guide: Dewsbury B, Brame CJ. (2019) Evidence Based Teaching Guide: Inclusive Teaching. CBE Life Science Education. Retrieved from
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