By Jelena Zascerinska 

Hochschule Wismar, Germany 

Learners’ emotions might make these learners’ participation in the educational process dull or fun.  

Conventionally, emotions are grouped into positive and negative emotions, e.g. An, Ji, Marks, Zhang (2017).  

The latest developments in the analysis of emotions allow for shaping three groups of emotions (Ahrens & Zaščerinska, 2014): 

  • Positive, 
  • Neutral, and 
  • Negative. 

There is still an ongoing discussion about whether neutral emotions exist, e.g. Gasper, Spencer, Hu (2019). 

Table 1 presents the list of positive, neutral, and negative emotions common to the educational sector. 

Table 1: List of positive, neutral, and negative emotions  

Positive Emotions (Skiba, Maruszewska Talarowska Gałecki, 2019)  Neutral Emotions (Barnes, 2015) Negative Emotions (Skiba, Maruszewska Talarowska Gałecki, 2019) 
Attentive Surprise Hostile 
Active Indifference Irritable 
Alert  Ashamed 
Excited  Guilty 
Enthusiastic  Distressed 
Determined  Upset 
Inspired  Scared 
Proud  Afraid 
Interested  Jittery 
Strong  Nervous 

Positive emotions are needed to function effectively, grow, and thrive (Ackerman, 2019). 

Although they are unpleasant to experience, negative emotions are necessary for a healthy life (Ackerman, 2019). This is true for two big reasons (Ackerman, 2019): 

  • Negative emotions are a counterpoint to positive emotions; without the negative, would the positive emotions still feel as good? 
  • Negative emotions serve evolutionary purposes, encouraging us to act in ways that boost our chances of survival and help us grow and develop as people. 

Seven reasons why negative emotions aren’t all that negative (Kennedy, 2021):  

1. They’re normal 

2. They have a positive intention 

3. They’re a warning signal 

4. They inspire action 

5. They allow you to live wholeheartedly 

6. They provide a release 

7. They build resilience 

There is a good reason for each of the basic emotions, both positive and negative (Kennedy, 2021): 

  • Anger: to fight against problems 
  • Fear: to protect us from danger 
  • Anticipation: to look forward and plan 
  • Surprise: to focus on new situations 
  • Joy: to remind us what’s important 
  • Sadness: to connect us with those we love 
  • Trust: to communicate with people who help 
  • Disgust: to reject what is unhealthy  

Emotional neutrality refers to rational decision-making (Halton, 2021). In education, neutral emotions relate to quasi-emotions (Ahrens, Zascerinska, Filimonova, Bikova, 2023). Consequently, neutral emotions in education are asymmetrical, in flux at various stages, and can be interpreted differently at different points in time (Robbins, 2007; Ahrens, Zascerinska, Filimonova, Bikova, 2023). 

Here, all three types of emotions – positive, neutral, and negative – are important for an individual’s (learner’s) development. 

The research question is: How are learners’ emotions aligned with the educational process? 

To answer this question, we need to recall what the educational process is. 

The educational process means a purposefully organized process of transfer of the teacher’s experience (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) to learner(s) (Zaščerinska & Ahrens, 2013). The education process is built of the following phases (Zascerinska, Aleksejeva, Zascerinskis, Gukovica, Aleksejeva, Abjalkiene, 2021): 

  • Teaching in Phase 1,  
  • Peer-learning in Phase 2, and  
  • Learning in Phase 3. 

In regard to the alignment of learners’ emotions to the educational process, Phase 1 Teaching is proposed to be started by making learners’ dissatisfied with their existing experience (Stepans, 2005). It means that teaching is associated with learners’ negative emotions.  

Phase 2 Peer-learning is associated with quasi-emotions (Ahrens, Zascerinska, Filimonova, Bikova, 2023). Therefore, peer-learning relates to learners’ neutral emotions. 

Phase 3 Learning, therefore, is linked with learners’ positive emotions.  

Figure 1 illustrates the alignment of learners’ emotions to the educational process. 

Figure 1: The relationships between the phases of the educational process and learners’ positive, neutral, and negative emotions 

We propose that learners’ emotions develop in the educational process 

  • From negative emotions in Phase 1 Teaching 
  • Through neutral emotions in Phase 2 Peer-learning 
  • To positive emotions in Phase 3 Learning. 

Such the development of learners’ emotions in the educational process (from negative to positive) is described in the saying: There is always sunshine after rain. 


Ackerman, Courtney E. (2019). What are Positive and Negative Emotions and Do We Need Both? Available at  

Ahrens, A., Zascerinska, J., Filimonova, D., Bikova, A. (2023). How Emotions Are Developed: Insights From Vygotsky’S and Leontiev’s Works. SOCIETY. INTEGRATION. EDUCATION. Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference. Volume II, May 26th, 2023. 232-242. . 

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Zascerinska, J., Aleksejeva, A., Zascerinskis, M., Gukovica, O., Aleksejeva, L., & Abjalkiene, I. (2021). Mixed Class Teaching as an Emerging Trend Accelerated by COVID-19. Education. Innovation. Diversity, 2(3), 53-65DOI: 

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