Classroom Emotions and Teacher Decision-Making Processes: A Qualitative Study

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Young, Caleb Morgan
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Teachers experience a breadth of emotions while teaching, but their effect upon decision making is not well understood. Using Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory as its theoretical framework, the present study investigated events teachers frame as positive and negative and the influence of positive and negative affect upon teachers’ decision-making processes based on thematic analysis of open-ended responses from 68 educators in the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Five themes were identified related to positive affect and decision making: classroom management, cyclical engagement, awareness and reflection, ongoing positivity, and opportunities for upward extension. The effect of negative affect upon teachers’ decision making resulted in three themes: expressed and experienced emotional incongruence, lasting effect on pedagogy, and teachers’ sense of feeling limited in their choice of actions. Limitations and implications for educational practice are discussed, while results are linked back to existing literature and theory.
Teacher emotions, teacher decision making, broaden-and-build theory, emotion regulation, emotional labour