Integrating cognitive with affective learning in online education
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Integrating Cognitive with Affective learning in Online Education. WANG Heng Beijing Foreign Studies University. Overview. Background Purpose of the Study Review of the Literature Methods and Findings Conclusions and Recommendations. Background: Online Learning.

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Integrating Cognitive with Affective learning in Online Education

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Integrating Cognitive with Affective learning in Online Education


Beijing Foreign Studies University


  • Background

  • Purpose of the Study

  • Review of the Literature

  • Methods and Findings

  • Conclusions and Recommendations

Background: Online Learning

Perspectives on e-learning: A framework for analysis

Purpose of the Study

  • The present paper aims

    -- to emphasize and address the affective issue in the online education.

    -- to provide recommendations in integrating cognitive with affective learning in online education so as to help instructors create effective and positive online learning environments.

Review of the Literature

  • Affective

  • Affective means having to do with emotion. It is most commonly used in psychology and psychiatry to describe emotions. The word affective is something of an opposite to cognitive. Psychological theory is that one half of the brain is affective or emotional. The other half of the brain is cognitive, logical, and language-oriented(Encyclopædia Britannica).

  • ‘Affective functions and cognitive ones are inextricably integrated with one another in language learning’ (Picard et al 2004) .

Review of the Literature

  • Teacher Immediacy Behavior

  • From the field of communication education based on Mehrabian & Wiener (1968) in psychology, immediacy can be defined as the amount of “perceived physical and/or psychological closeness between people” (Christophel, 1990, p. 325).

  • Studies of immediacy behaviors gave rise to the concept of social presence, from social psychology (Short, Williams, and Christie, 1976).

  • Social presence is “the degree to which a person is perceived as a ‘real person’ in mediated communication” (Gunawardena, 1995, p.151).

Social Presence

  • Definition

    • The degree to which a communication medium is perceived to be socio-emotionally similar to a face-to-face conversation. (Rogers, 1986)

  • Bipolar pairs

    • ImpersonalPersonal

    • DistantClose

    • DehumanizingHumanizing

    • ExpressiveInexpressive

    • EmotionalUnemotional

    • InsensitiveSensitive


  • Studies have shown that “…users of computer networks are able to project their identities whether `real’ or `pseudo,’ feel the presence of others online, and create communities with commonly agreed on conventions and norms …” (Gunawardena, 1995, p. 151).

Changing roles (Hiltz et al)

  • From Facilitator to Moderator: leading to learning

  • Cognitive role

    • Two way learning process

    • Engaging in a deeper level of mental processing: thinking, reasoning, analyzing

    • Persistent communication leads to more reflective and high quality responses: accuracy becomes very important

  • Affective Roles

    • More nonverbal communication

    • More intimacy

    • More formal, less humor

  • Managerial roles

    • More course planning

    • More course administration and organization: leading, controlling

  • Searching for a new persona: “smiley faces are not my thing”


  • Refers to online teaching and facilitation role. Moderating used to mean to preside over a meeting or a discussion, but in the electronic world, it means more than that. It is all roles combined—to hold meetings, to encourage, to provide information, to question, to summarize, etc. (Collins & Berge, 1997; Gilly Salmon, 2000); see


  • Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed in the research.

  • Questionnaire survey (distributed to 56 online learners) and face-to-face structured interviews.


“Lack of admin vision.”

“Lack of incentive from admin and the fact that they do not understand what we need.”

“Lack of system support.”

“Little recognition.”


“Difficulty in performing lab experiments online.”

“Lack of appropriate models for pedagogy.”


“More ideas than time to implement.”

“Not enough time to correct online assign.”

“People need sleep; Web spins forever.”

Findings: (1) Problems Faced

Findings: Problems Faced

To Cope with the Interpersonal Machine, We Need Instructor’s Loving Support!!!



e.g. “The total experience”(p vii & viii ibid)

  • “what engages students the most” -

    course design (41%)

    staff (25%)

    support (10%)


    (knowledge/skills) (4%)

    e.g. “Interactive face to face methods”are rated most highly or “the best for this group of 95,000 students as learning remains a profoundly social experience” (p x ibid)


  • The research results demonstrate that compared with the intellectual needs, online learners have as much as, or even more affective requirements in their online learning.

  • Interpersonal relations and social support can increase their persistence in online learning, and enhances their group commitment, collaboration, and learning satisfaction.


  • 1) Emails. Tutors are encouraged to begin their online teaching by creating a class email box, a place for students and tutors to communicate easily. And students’ personal discussion folders may be established if possible. The messages might be two to three sentences long and include general words of encouragement, caring or support. All these could help students overcome feelings of remoteness in online learning.

2) Discussion "forums".

  • Forums could be another good way to build up communication. In order to increase psychological closeness with learners, tutors may use verbal immediacy in their response. They may cite their personal experiences or give the affective response just as a friend. Here, emoticons may help a lot. Emoticons are graphic accents or textualized icons created by a series of standard keyboard characters combined to produce a picture (e.g., :-) ). These nonverbal cues bring facial expressions used in face-to-face settings to the internet, conveying affection and emotions.

3) "Live chat".

  • Students often felt that the lack of timely feedback from tutors discouraged them from participating in the online learning and discussions. "Live chat"can address this issue and help reduce perceived interaction difficulty associated with time-independent posting and replying. 4) Phone Calls. In our survey, it is surprising to find out what a personal phone call can do to enhance a sense of connectedness with students. In the interview, off-campus students felt as though they learned more when their tutor used phone calls to express caring and provide specific feedback.

4) Phone Calls

  • In our survey, it is surprising to find out what a personal phone call can do to enhance a sense of connectedness with students. In the interview, off-campus students felt as though they learned more when their tutor used phone calls to express caring and provide specific feedback.


  • Results of the study concluded that affective factors are as important as cognitive factors in online education. It builds connectedness and promotes learning. Online education should given adequate consideration to affective domains.






Selected Bibliography

  • Scott G (2005) Accessing the Student Voice. Using CEQuery to identify what retains students and promotes engagement in productive learning in Australian higher education. Report DEST

  • Smith P & Sadler-Smith E (2006) Learning in Organisations - Complexities and Diversity. Routledge, Oxon & NY

  • Dede, C. 2005, Planning for 'Neomillennial' learning styles: implications for investments in technology and faculty, in D. Oblinger & J. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the Net Generation, EDUCAUSE, available online:

  • Staron M (et al) (2006) Life Based Learning. A strength based approach to capability development. Report ICVET

  • Wenger E (1997) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning & Identity. Cambridge University Press

  • Glasser W (1998) Control Theory in the Classroom. Harper Rowe New York

  • Ramsden P (1991) (2nd ed) Learning to Teach in Higher Education. RoutledgeFalmer

  • Carrick Teaching Awards Forum (templates) May 2007

    Further Reading

  • Schön, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, Basic Books, New York.

  • Atkinson T & Claxton G (eds) (2000) The Intuitive Practitioner: On the value of not always knowing what one is doing. Open University Press, Buckingham

  • Sanchez E (2006) Fuzzy Logic and the Semantic Web. Elsevier B.V.

  • Biggs J (2003) (2nd ed) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Open University press

  • Thank you for your attention!!!

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