Technology Meets Affect: Scaffolding Students' Socio-Emotional Needs Through Virtual Learning

Technology Meets Affect: Scaffolding Students' Socio-Emotional Needs Through Virtual Learning

Kalpana Mukunda Iyengar (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA) and Howard L. Smith (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6322-8.ch016
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This chapter describes a variety of multimedia incorporated into a course to respond to students' emotional and psychological needs. The course was designed for online, hybrid, as well as traditional face-to-face formats. The multimedia incorporated into the course were tools readily available for collegiate use (e.g., email, Google Drive, Wikispace). This research, based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, asserts that many of the experiences and technological devices integrated into twenty-first century instruction, respond to critical emotional elements of learning. While technological advancements provide convenience, the authors argue that the learner's affective needs are equally supported. Instructors, irrespective of their level of technological proficiency or their access to digital devices, may use these insights to incorporate technology for instruction in more thoughtful ways.
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Theoretical Framework

In order to appreciate the multiple processes that are simultaneously engaged during the act of learning-teaching, several theories must be combined. They create a theoretical framework that addresses: (1) the cognitive goals (i.e., what should be taught); (2) the socio-emotional factors that mediate learning, and; (3) the pedagogical strategies that will be used to clarify the ideas, inform, guide and (hopefully) engage the learner. A review of the literature on learning-teaching indicates that more humanistic approaches are extremely effective with a greater variety of learners. In this context, humanistic refers to instructional practices that purposefully incorporate modes of engagement that support psychological needs and desires.

Based on the extant research, the authors propose that the most advocated approaches for effective instruction intrinsically include an awareness of this psychology. They include Constructivism (Bandura, 1975; 1995), Community of Practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), and Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky, 1978). Underlying all these humanistic pedagogical approaches is the inherent belief that learning can be enhanced or inhibited to the degree that instruction responds to basic human needs (see Figure 1).

In the following section, we expatiate on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Subsequently, we briefly discuss the modes and methods developed to address the humanistic learning theories and Maslow's taxonomy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Communication: The exchange of information (e.g., ideas, thoughts, emotions) via words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to someone else.

Synchronous Learning: Educational activities that occur at the same time.

Asynchronous Learning: Opportunities to acquire new understandings (i.e., education, instruction, learning) that do not occur in the same place or at the same time.

Maslow's Motivation Theory (Hierarchy of Needs): Proposed in the twentieth century, Maslow argued that human beings were driven to or deterred from learning new information because of inherent emotional needs. Placed into five, interdependent levels or categories, the needs were hierarched as: physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self-actualization . Maslow, in a later iteration, added a sixth level, self-actualization.

Affect: Refers to emotions, feelings, or dispositions that influence behaviors.

Relationships: The manner in which two or more people, objects, or concepts are connected.

Belongingness (Membership): The human emotional need (i.e., affect) to feel accepted by a group.

Technology: Refers to devices, usually digitally based and internet-dependent, which facilitate communication, data storage, information processing, and transmission.

Digital/Multimedia: Using several media (typically internet dependent) in combination (e.g., word processing, graphics, audio), in computer applications controlled by digital platforms.

Proximity: Refers to nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.

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