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Emotional intelligence and relational learning

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined by Goleman as the ‘capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships' (2008, p. 317).
Research is proving that EI impacts on academic outcomes (Hansen, 2009) and that it contributes more to an individual's success than IQ (Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Churchie's current research clearly indicates that understanding others' emotions and emotional management and control, have the highest correlation to academic achievement. This is particularly significant with a student's final ATAR score.

Measuring boys' EI

Students at Churchie undergo the Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT). This online self-assessment measures the four constructs of EI:
  • Emotional Recognition and Expression (in oneself): The ability to identify one's own feelings and emotional states, and the ability to express those inner feelings to others.
  • Understanding Others' Emotions: The ability to identify and understand the emotions of others and those that are manifest in external stimuli.
  • Emotions Direct Cognition: The extent to which emotions and emotional knowledge are incorporated in decision-making and/or problem solving.
  • Emotional Management and Control: The ability to manage positive and negative emotions within oneself and others and effectively control strong emotional states such as anger, stress, anxiety and frustration (Hansen, 2009; Luebbers, Downey, & Stough, 2007).
Teachers access students' EI profiles to further their understanding of individual boys in the classroom context. This helps our teachers to establish more positive and meaningful relationships with each of our students.
EI profiles form part of each student's academic profile, which helps to determine the individual learning needs of that student. For example, if a boy is underachieving academically, his self-reported EI measure may provide some clue for this underperformance.

The benefits of well-developed EI

We know from the literature that those students who have more well-developed EI:
  • do better academically and are more academically resilient
  • transition well into secondary school and beyond
  • experience better social adjustment (Ruiz-Aranda, Salguero, Carbello Palomera, & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2012)
  • develop better quality friendships
  • are rated by peers and teachers as higher in leadership capabilities (Parker, Saklofske, Wood & Collin, 2009)
  • feel better about their place in school and achieve better academic outcomes (Nelson & DeBacker, 2008)
  • take responsibility for their learning and actions
  • put in more effort and demonstrate greater initiative in class (Hansen, 2009)
  • engage in academic risk taking in learning
  • employ metacognitive strategies as a critical learning tool to transform student learning, such as awareness, monitoring and self-regulation.

Teachers' emotional intelligence and relational learning

In our classrooms, teachers are increasing their understanding of the EI dimensions and how to apply this understanding into their teaching strategies. This is related to modelling the EI dimensions; establishing relationships with the students through an understanding of students' EI profiles; reading the non-verbal cues of students in their classes; emotional management in times of conflict; and developing their EI vocabulary.
At Churchie we maintain the intrinsic belief that teachers are the most powerful influence in learning and that formative evaluation is critical to their development. This is evidenced through our teacher appraisal process. Churchie's teachers undertake an online self-assessment instrument that measures the adult EI domains. This contributes to reflection and understanding as to how they can develop as an emotionally intelligent teacher.

As experts in boys' education, we understand the significance of relational learning. Hattie (2009) found that teacher-student relationships had a very high correlation with achievement outcomes for students. We know that trusting relationships sustain boys' engagement in the classroom and when a 'teacher's presence is insufficient to forge relationships with students, opportunities to learn are lost' (Reichert and Hawley, 2010, p. 224)
Research from the International Boy's Schools Coalition (IBSC) offered three key insights into boys' lives; insights that shape successful approaches to teaching and learning at Churchie:
  • Boys are relational learners. Establishing an effective relationship is a precondition to successful teaching for boys.
  • Boys elicit the kinds of teaching they need. Teaching has a feedback dynamic in which ineffective practice disengages boys, which causes teachers to adjust pedagogy until responsiveness and mastery improve.
  • Successful lessons have an element that arouses and holds students' interests. (Reichert and Hawley, 2010, p. vii).
One of the strengths of Churchie's teachers is their ability to forge relationships with our young men. Steve Biddulph (2003), who is renowned for his insightful publications on teaching boys, claims that 'boys learn teachers and not subjects'. Boys will be more likely to work for teachers whom they believe like and respect them as individuals. Such a premise is particularly significant given our recent research from The University of Queensland's psychology faculty which found that'... effort is a stronger predictor of OP scores than any of the other variables, including ACER (ability) scores' (von Hippel, 2012).