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The Rope Swing

Sarah Rose Cavanagh 

October 2016 
PB 978-1-943665-33-4
CL 978-1-943665-32-7
epub 978-1-943665-34-1
PDF 978-1-943665-35-8

Teaching and Learning
in Higher Education Series


Historically we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. The field of education, however, is beginning to awaken to the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience. In friendly, readable prose, Sarah Rose Cavanagh argues that if you as an educator want to capture your students' attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and enhance their motivation, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. To make this argument, she brings to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience, and she provides practical examples of successful classroom activities from a variety of disciplines in secondary and higher education.


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Introduction: Once More, With Feeling

Part I. Foundations of Affective Science

1. The Science (and Neuroscience) of Your Emotions

2. The Well-Spring: Emotions Enhance Learning

Part II. Affective Science in Action

3. Be the Spark: Crafting Your First (and Lasting) Impression

4. Burning to Master: Mobilizing Student Efforts

5. Fueling the Fire: Prolonging Student Persistence

6. Best-Laid Plans: When Emotions Challenge or Backfire






Sarah Rose Cavanagh is an associate professor of psychology at Assumption College, where she also serves as associate director of grants and research in the Center for Teaching Excellence. She contemplates the connections between emotions and quality of life in her writing, teaching, and research, blogs on affective neuroscience for Psychology Today, and has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show.


"A phenomenal contribution to the scholarship on teaching and learning. Cavanagh immediately engages her audience through narrative and humor and manages to cover almost every major insight from the literature. This book can be profitably read by anyone who cares about teaching."
Elizabeth Barre, Rice University

"Cavanagh urges us to take seriously the role of emotions in student learning, offering research-driven advice on how to grab students' attention, motivate them, keep them engaged, and maximize chances of learning. This book will be of significant interest to faculty concerned about effective pedagogy."
Jay R. Howard, Butler University