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Emotional intelligence Making the most of your learning style

The two strands of personal intelligence, as defined by Gardner, are often associated with key social skills that help to explain why some people are more adept than others at forming friendships and relationships, or perhaps at getting along well with colleagues and peers.

Intrapersonal intelligence - understanding one's own feelings - involves self-awareness and helps people to curb their impulses.

Interpersonal intelligence - understanding the feelings of others - contributes to the ability to empathise.

Emotional competencies (such as self-awareness and empathy) are important in the workplace, in education, and in families. Research has explored how emotional intelligence could be taught to young adults to improve their social and emotional skills, on the basis of five principles.

  • Recognising your emotions
  • Managing your emotions
  • Motivating yourself
  • Understanding other people's emotions
  • Managing relationships

Improving your emotional intelligence

One of the aims of being reflective is to encourage you to recognise your emotions while engaged in study tasks. Becoming more aware of your responses and recognising that you have choices in how you manage these responses can lead to greater self-awareness and empathy. This can help you to

  • motivate yourself and others
  • overcome procrastination
  • develop self-confidence in your studies
  • improve communication with peers and tutors.

In the following audio clip, former OU learning consultants, Gill and Maggie, discuss how learning can be strengthened by our subjective and emotional reactions to something. An example would be how our senses and emotions are more engaged when we collaborate with other students. All of these subjective influences can help strengthen our memories of what we learn. This is called 'affective learning'.

Thinking about learning

Click here to listen 134

Gill (Learning Consultant)

I think sometimes students believe that when you're learning you should be ever so objective and rational. But what we know from Open University students is the tremendous emotional commitment, the excitement, all of those positive engagements that you must bring to bear on your learning. They're not something you put aside for other activities and you do this cold bloodedly. You bring your whole self to your Open University learning.

Maggie (Learning Consultant)

Your determination. Your passion. All those things.


Your excitement.


That's the excitement of it.


That's right.


Yes. As we sit here in this garden, all your senses are engaged. We're listening (sound of windchimes blowing in wind ) 


We're looking.


We could touch the textures.


We can pick the flowers.


We could smell the herbs. When we relate that to learning we need to really step back and think we will not just focus on reading and writing and remembering, which is what learning traditionally has been about. But we'll think about employing all the senses, we'll think about recording in different ways and we'll think about sharing that experience.


And the sharing's important for me because if we were now separated and asked to describe the garden, we'd have a lot of the same things we'd say but we'd miss some things. But if you and I together were to be asked by somebody next week to remember this garden, together we'd do a better job and together we'd prompt one another. And this is when we come back to thinking about how can you use the new technologies.

If you were in Devon and I was in Milton Keynes and we were linked through the computer, through a forum, we'd do a better job of both helping one another remember and learn and also transmitting our memories to other people. And that's what we try and do in the university, don't we? We give people alternative ways when we can't physically get them together, to share, to have the kind of conversation and shared experience that you and I have been doing exploring this garden for 10 minutes? 15 minutes?

Last updated 2 years ago