Throughout the school day children often experience a range of emotions, including joy, pride, happiness, sadness, anxiety, frustration, and anger. The emotions students express during the school day are believed to have implications for their learning and academic achievement. Emotions such as anxiety, boredom, sadness, and anger are generally negatively related to measures of academic achievement, including grades, standardised test scores, and overall aptitude, although the strength of the pattern varies based on the type of emotion. Although there is less work involving positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and excitement, extant literature shows some positive associations with academic perspective taking, exploration, creativity, problem-solving, interest, effort, and achievement.
After reviewing direct relations between emotion and achievement, two sets of variables that are believed to explain why emotion relates to achievement are discussed. First, evidence that the relations between emotion and achievement may be mediated by the student–teacher relationship and the relationships students form with peers is considered. Second, evidence that students’ classroom engagement may represent another pathway from emotion to achievement is reviewed. Next, attention is given to evidence that relations might depend upon other variables. There is a specific review of evidence that the relations between emotion and achievement appear to vary based on whether students are high vs. low on measures of self-control.
Following the sections on emotion and achievement, there is a discussion of programmes that have been effective in helping students to manage their emotional experiences. Following this section, there is a consideration of methodological issues such as the advantages and disadvantages of assessing emotions with surveys, physiologically, and with observational approaches. Lastly, there is a section on identifying key areas in need of additional study, with specific attention given to encouraging investigators to identify why and when (e.g., under what conditions) emotion is related to achievement, the need to study this topic in samples of children living outside of the United States, and the need for longitudinal studies that allow for the consideration of bidirectional relations.