West Virginia University Press has published The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion by Sarah Rose Cavanagh, the inaugural book in its Teaching and Learning in Higher Education series.

Historically we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. The field of education, however, is beginning to awaken to the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience.

In friendly, readable prose, Cavanagh argues that if you as an educator want to capture your students’ attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention and enhance their motivation, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design. To make this argument, she brings to bear a wide range of evidence from the study of education, psychology and neuroscience, and she provides practical examples of successful classroom activities from a variety of disciplines in secondary and higher education.

Watch the trailer for this book at wvupress.com.

Elizabeth Barre of Rice University calls this book “a phenomenal contribution to the scholarship on teaching and learning. Sarah Rose Cavanagh immediately engages her audience through narrative and humor and manages to cover almost every major insight from the literature. This book can be profitably read by anyone who cares about teaching.”

Jay R. Howard, Butler University notes, “Cavanagh urges us to take seriously the role of emotions in student learning, offering research-driven advice on how to grab students’ attention, motivate them, keep them engaged and maximize chances of learning. This book will be of significant interest to faculty concerned about effective pedagogy.”

Cavanagh is an associate professor of psychology at Assumption College, where she also serves as associate director of grants and research in the Center for Teaching Excellence. She contemplates the connections between emotions and quality of life in her writing, teaching and research blogs on effective neuroscience for Psychology Today, and has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show.

The Teaching and Learning in Higher Education will feature compact, practical books about how to teach at the college level. Series books will be attentive to challenges and opportunities related to new technologies and will incorporate the latest insights from the burgeoning field of cognitive science to impart perspectives on how students actually learn. Emphasizing the importance of “books written by human beings,” the series promises to provide a welcome antidote to jargon-heavy prose more typical of books about higher education. All books in the series will have a solid theoretical foundation in the learning sciences, offer practical strategies to working faculty, and provide guidance for further reading and study.

Series editor James M. Lang is professor of English and the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at�Assumption College. He writes a monthly column on teaching for�The�Chronicle of Higher Education�and is the author of several books, including�Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty�(Harvard);�On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching�(Harvard); and�Life on the Tenure Track: Lessons from the First Year�(Johns Hopkins).� He is a member of the Fulbright Senior Specialist roster in higher education.

To order this book, visit wvupress.com, call 800.621.2736 or visit a local bookstore.

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CONTACT: Abby Freeland, West Virginia University Press
304.293.6188; abby.freeland@mail.wvu.edu

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