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    A phenomenological exploration of feelings, thinking and learning: a practitioner action research investigation

    Hawkins, Jennifer A. (2010) A phenomenological exploration of feelings, thinking and learning: a practitioner action research investigation. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    In this thesis I researched as a student, teacher, educational mentor, researcher and evaluator investigating the effects and functions of feelings in learning. Feelings were defined as physical and mental sensations. Four data strands contributed to a new learning theory developed over eight years. Using collaborative methods I asked the guiding question; “What is the relationship between feelings, thinking and learning?” including an appropriate subsidiary question in each strand. My first aim was to find causes for disaffected student behaviour. While home-tutoring I asked the question; "Emotional blocks: what do they tell us about the learning process?" The resulting narratives revealed complex ecological factors of which I was previously unaware (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Inquiry Strand 1: Tutoring 12 school refusers). These were analysed thematically. In the second strand I asked; "How do feelings affect my learning and teaching?” resolving learning problems and developing professional insight. (Inquiry Strand 2: The author's learning process). The third strand compared other teachers’ experiences asking; “How do feelings affect other teachers’ learning and teaching?" (Inquiry Strand 3: Mentoring 8 teachers as learners). The fourth strand explored the theory’s potential to inform professional practice (Inquiry Strand 4: Evaluating a primary school arts festival: observations of feeling based learning in action). Strands 2, 3 and 4 were also thematically analysed and included a framework of positive 'emotionally linked' learning behaviours as additional themes. The latter were derived from Claxton’s Effective Learning Profile (2002). In this Resilience is associated with absorption, managing distractions, noticing, perseverance; Resourcefulness with questioning, making links, imagining, reasoning; Reflectiveness with planning, revising, distilling, meta-learning and Reciprocity with interdependence, collaboration, empathy, listening and imitation. My fifth aim of sharing findings with others was undertaken throughout the research. My theory developed through reading, self reflection, writing and working with those who participated as colleagues and students (Wenger 2002). The findings make a contribution to knowledge, which evidences the claim that in education feelings may usefully be considered as legitimate thoughts.

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