The nexus between pre-service teachers’ emotional experience and cognition during professional experience

  • Hongzhi YangEmail author


Traditional rationalism has treated cognition and emotion separately. Pre-service teachers’ emotional experiences during teacher preparation programmes have not been sufficiently discussed in research. This study uses Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory perspective to analyse the nature of the emotion-cognition nexus of pre-service teachers during professional experience. Sociocultural theory regards emotions as originated from social interaction and playing a catalytic role for teachers’ development. Data were collected from questionnaire surveys and pre-service teachers’ narratives. The findings indicate that the prominent factors impacting on the participants’ emotional patterns are their students and supervising teachers. In addition, this study reveals the dialectical relationship between pre-service teachers’ emotion-cognition, which impact on the development of their professional personality as teachers. During this process, the creation of tools and support from others play key roles in their conceptual and emotional development. The findings imply that pre-service teachers’ emotional experience can be used as a resource for their professional growth and development.


Teachers’ emotion Sociocultural theory Professional experience Teacher education 



  1. Anttila, H., Pyhältö, K., Soini, T., & Pietarinen, J. (2017). From anxiety to enthusiasm. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(4), 447–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barkhuizen, G., & Wette, R. (2008). Narrative frames for investigating the experiences of language teachers. System, 36(3), 372–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bloomfield, D. (2010). Emotions and ‘getting by’: A pre-service teacher navigating professional experience. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 38(3), 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borg, S. (2003). Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what language teachers think, know, believe, and do. Language Teaching, 36(2), 81–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cross, R. (2010). Language teaching as sociocultural activity: Rethinking language teacher practice. The Modern Language Journal, 94(3), 434–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dang, T. K. A. (2013). Identity in activity: Examining teacher professional identity formation in the paired-placement of student teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 30, 47–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Day, C., & Leitch, R. (2001). Teachers’ and teacher educators’ lives: The role of emotion. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17(4), 403–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DiPardo, A., & Potter, C. (2003). A Vygotskian perspective on emotionality and teachers’ professional lives. In A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. S. Ageyev, & S. M. Miller, (Eds.), Vygotsky’s educational theory in cultural context (pp. 317–345). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Eren, A. (2014). Relational analysis of prospective teachers’ emotions about teaching, emotional styles, and professional plans about teaching. The Australian Educational Researcher, 41(4), 381–409. Scholar
  10. Fleer, M., & Hammer, M. (2013). Emotions in imaginative situations: The valued place of fairytales for supporting emotion regulation. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 20(3), 240–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gao, X., & Benson, P. (2012). ‘Unruly pupils’ in pre-service English language teachers’ teaching practicum experiences. Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 38(2), 127–140. Scholar
  12. Golombek, P., & Doran, M. (2014). Unifying cognition, emotion, and activity in language teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39, 102–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Golombek, P. R., & Johnson, K. E. (2004). Narrative inquiry as a mediational space: Examining cognitive and emotional dissonance in second language teachers’ development. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 10(3), 307–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hargreaves, A. (1998) The emotional practice of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14(8), 835–854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harper, H. (2012). Teachers’ emotional responses to new pedagogical tools in high challenge settings: illustrations from the Northern Territory. The Australian Educational Researcher, 39(4), 447–461. Scholar
  16. Hirschkorn, M. (2009). Student-teacher relationships and teacher induction: Ben’s story. Teacher Development, 13(3), 205–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Holodynski, M. (2013). The internalization theory of emotions: A cultural historical approach to the development of emotions. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 20(1), 4–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holodynski, M., & Friedlmeier, W. (2006). Development of emotions and emotion regulation. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Johnson, K. E., & Golombek, P. R. (2011). A sociocultural theoretical perspective on teacher professional development. In K. E. Johnson & P. R. Golombek (Eds.), Research on second language teacher education: A sociocultural perspective on professional development (pp. 1–12). New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson, K. E., & Worden, D. (2014). Cognitive/emotional dissonance as growth points in learning to teach. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 2(1), 125–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kubanyiova, M. (2012). Teacher development in action: Understanding language teachers’ conceptual change. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Leont’ev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Malderez, A., Hobson, A. J., Tracey, L., & Kerr, K. (2007). Becoming a student teacher: Core features of the experience. European Journal of Teacher Education, 30(3), 225–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Meyer, D. K. (2009). Entering the emotional practices of teaching. In P. A. Schutz & M. Zembylas (Eds.), Advances in teacher emotion research: The impact on teachers’ lives (pp. 73–91). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nguyen, M. H. (2014). Preservice EAL teaching as emotional experiences: Practicum experience in an Australian secondary school. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(8), 62–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. O’Connor, K. E. (2008). “You choose to care”: Teachers, emotions and professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 117–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pekrun, R. (2016). Using self-report to assess emotions in education. In M. Zembylas & P. A. Schutz (Eds.), Methodological advances in research on emotion and education (pp. 43–54). Switzerland: Springer.Google Scholar
  29. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 8(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Poulou, M. (2007). Student-teachers’ concerns about teaching practice. European Journal of Teacher Education, 30(1), 91–110. Scholar
  31. Saunders, R. (2013). The role of teacher emotions in change: Experiences, patterns and implications for professional development. Journal of Educational Change, 14(3), 303–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shapiro, S. (2010). Revisiting the teachers’ lounge: Reflections on emotional experience and teacher identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(3), 616–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sutton, R. E., & Wheatley, K. F. (2003). Teachers’ emotions and teaching: A review of the literature and directions for future research. Educational Psychology Review, 15(4), 327–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Swain, M. (2013). The inseparability of cognition and emotion in second language learning. Language Teaching, 46(2), 195–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Timoštšuk, I., & Ugaste, A. (2012). The role of emotions in student teachers’ professional identity. European Journal of Teacher Education, 35(4), 421–433. Scholar
  36. Timperley, H. (2011). A background paper to inform the development of a national professional development framework for teachers and school leaders. Melbourne: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).Google Scholar
  37. Uitto, M., Jokikokko, K., & Estola, E. (2015). Virtual special issue on teachers and emotions in Teaching and Teacher Education (TATE) in 1985–2014. Teaching and Teacher Education, 50, 124–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). Problems of general psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky (Vol. 4). In: R. W. Rieber (Ed.), The history of the development of higher mental functions. New York: Plenum (Original work published 1931)Google Scholar
  40. Vygotsky, L. S. (1998). The collected works of L.S. Vygotsky (Vol. 5). New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  41. Vygotsky, L. S. (1999). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky (Vol. 6). In R. W. Rieber (Ed.), Scientific legacy. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic (Original work published 1933).Google Scholar
  42. Zaporozhets, A. V. (2002). Toward the question of the genesis, function, and structure of emotional processes in the child. Journal of Russian & East European Psychology, 40, 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zembylas, M. (2003). Emotions and teacher identity: A poststructural perspective. Teachers and Teaching, 9(3), 213–238. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education and Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations