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The Spark of Learning - Energizing and Motivating Students in Uncertain Times
Historically, we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair, ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. The pedagogical world, however, is beginning to awaken to the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience. In this interactive event from the Research-Informed Teaching & Learning (RITL) Affinity Group, Dr. Sarah Rose Cavanagh will bring to bear empirical evidence from the study of education, psychology, and neuroscience to argue that if you want to capture students’ attention, enhance their motivation, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and encourage habits related to good mental health, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. In this session, participants will be invited to engage with practical examples of activities and assignments that are rooted in this research and to think about implications of these research-based insights for their own practice.

Sarah Rose Cavanagh is the Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University, where she is also an Associate Professor of Practice in Psychology. She is the author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016).

Note: This event is being recorded. The recording will be posted on the Research-Informed Teaching and Learning Canvas site, which is accessible to members of the Harvard community. By registering for this event you are providing consent to have yourself recorded when you display video or share sound. If you do not wish to be recorded please turn video/audio sharing off and/or contact the organizers (

Our Canvas site will include materials from this event and from past events:

This event is open only to members of the Harvard community.

Dec 10, 2021 11:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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