student if they are confused or frustrated, before offering to provide coaching or hints). Moreover, successful learning (e.g. solving a difficult puzzle) is frequently marked by an unmistakable elation, often jointly celebrated with “high fives.” In some cases, the “Aha!” moment is so dramatic, it verges on the epiphanetic. One of the great joys for an educator is to bring a student to such a moment of triumph.
Our first step is to offer a model of a learning cycle (Figures 1a and 1b) and later to describe this model of emotions (Figure 2). Figures 1a and 1b interweave the emotion axes shown in Figure 2 with the cognitive dynamics of the learning process. The horizontal axis in Figures 1a and 1b is an Emotion Axis. It could be one of the specific axes from Figure 2, or it could symbolize the n-vector of all relevant emotion axes (thus allowing multi-dimensional combinations of emotions). The positive valence (more pleasurable) emotions are on the right; the negative valence (more unpleasant) emotions are on the left. The vertical axis is what we call the Learning Axis, and symbolizes the construction of knowledge upward, and the discarding of misconceptions downward. (Note: we do not see learning as being simply a process of constructing/deconstructing or adding/subtracting information; this terminology is merely a projection of one aspect of how people can think about learning. Other aspects could be similarly included along the Learning Axis.)
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Figure 1a – Proposed model relating phases of learning to emotions in Figure 2