Digital Learning Blog

Book Bytes: The Spark of Learning

July 29, 2022  / Digital Learning  / Tags: Book Bytes, Vlog

If you want to grab the attention of your students, mobilize their efforts, prolong their persistence, permanently change how they see the world, and maximize the chance that they will retain the material you’re teaching them over the long term, then there is no better approach than to target their emotions. -Sarah Cavanagh


Cavanagh, S. R. (2016). The spark of learning: Energizing the college classroom with the science of emotion. West Virginia University Press. (Ebook in the FGCU Library) 

What is the topic?

Using emotion to capture and keep students’ attention. 

Why is the topic important?

  • In higher education, faculty are subject experts. They are focused on their content.  (How will I teach this, What should I teach? How will I assess this learning?). 
  • Since the pandemic, when student emotions (and mental health) became central to student success, faculty have realized that the affective element of learning plays a huge role in successful teaching and learning.
  • Sarah Cavanagh goes even further with this idea and aligns the science of emotion with learning, persistence, and memory.
  • The book is full of practical examples that demonstrate how emotions can be integrated in the college classroom to promote deep learning.

Who can use this information?

  • Online instructors/faculty
  • Instructional Designers

Top three takeaways

  • Teaching and learning should be emotional
  • Psychology and Neuroscience have research-verified information about how, when, and why faculty should incorporate emotion into the classroom.
  • Transparency is key to getting student buy-in.