Research corner

`Feeling and showing: A new conceptualization of dispositional teacher enthusiasm and its relation to students' interest' by Keller, M M, Goetz, T, Becker, E S et al

Learning and Instruction, 33: 29-38, October 2014 (Elsevier)

"Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic," opined noted author and lecturer Dale Carnegie, who knew a thing or two about winning friends and influencing people. And, if a new research study is to be believed, act enthusiastic and your students will be enthusiastic as well.

The paper, written by academics based in Germany, Switzerland and the US, defines enthusiasm as "teachers' positive affect and positive emotional expressivity".

Some 75 teachers (of German, English, French and maths) in Switzerland participated in the research, along with 863 students. The aim was to test whether teacher enthusiasm was positively related to students' interest in a subject, and whether this was affected by how enthusiastic the students perceived their teacher to be.

The researchers found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the level of teacher enthusiasm positively predicted students' interest, as well as their enjoyment of the subject and their perception of its value.

However, before you gear yourself up to rhapsodise about an area of your subject that you're not wild about, a word of caution. The authors found that faking enthusiasm had similar results to "emotional labour or experiences of emotional dissonance.both of which have detrimental effects on health and well-being".

Sarah Cunnane

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