What Is Awe and How Is It Evoked?

“In a classroom setting, many students can feel stressed about exams or class projects because they feel as though they may not have enough time. Perhaps by inducing a sense of awe in these students, the successful teacher can allay some of the perceptions of time ‘crunch.’ Though this particular connection is admittedly one without further empirical support, it is intriguing to consider. Furthermore, because awe is a positive emotion, even if it doesn’t help assuage undue test anxiety, it will at least brighten a student’s day for a moment,

How does one evoke awe? Images of natural splendor or beauty, moving musical passages, or brief anecdotes about the successful exploits of famous individuals may all achieve this goal.

Effort actually influences our sense of how soon or far off something feels. Tasks and events that are believed to require effort and be taxing actually feel as though they are temporally closer than easier tasks. This only holds true if there is an actual deadline for completion. With a deadline or due date/time in place, it feels as though there is more time to complete the easy task and less time to complete the challenging one (Jiga-Boy, Clark, & Semin, 2010). Without a deadline, more effortful tasks seem farther away in time than they actually are.

These findings suggest that ambiguous or vague deadlines may actually result in greater levels of procrastination because to the student it feels as though there is more time to complete the project than perhaps is actually warranted. Thus it is recommended that firm deadlines be implemented and adhered to whenever possible.

Finally, time does indeed appear to fly when people are having fun (Gable & Poole, 2012). This fact provides yet another reason (as though any were needed) to introduce as much fun and frivolity as possible into classroom sessions because if hard-to-reach students feel as though the day is speeding by, there is less of a chance of them associated associating the school with tedium and toil. After all, a happy student is likely and engaged one.”

Excerpted from: Rekart, Jerome L. The Cognitive Classroom: Using Brain and Cognitive Science to Optimize Student Success. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013.

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