Misery in Methods: Moderating Negative Emotions of both Students and Teachers in Quantitative Undergraduate Methods Classes


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Undergraduate quantitative methods courses can be miserable. In this piece, I offer some solutions from social psychology and my own experience that address the anxieties of both students and professors as they begin an undergraduate quantitative methods course. These are not solutions of syllabi or content or innovative teaching techniques. Instead, they get to the heart of the matter—emotions. How do we challenge negative emotions? How can we moderate intense emotions to become more productive? And how can we foster an association between constructive, positive attitudes and a quantitative methods class?


Resource Type(s):
Warren Waren 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Class Level:
College 400 
Class Size:

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Professors should strive to moderate the emotions of the students in their social statistics courses through engaging the students’ curiosity.
Assessment 1:
Professors will know they have tapped into the curiosity of their students through the quality of the discussion associated with the example (current or historical) paired to each statistical topic introduced.
Goal 2:
Professors should be able to moderate the emotions of their students in social statistics courses through a focus on a growth mindset.
Assessment 2:
Professors can start their students down the path to a growth mindset by including language on the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset in the course syllabus and by directly addressing the issue in an introductory lecture.
Goal 3:
Professors should be able to moderate their own emotions in their social statistics courses.
Assessment 3:
Through self-reflection immediately before class time (or grading time), professors are encouraged to make an explicit, conscious shift to a growth mindset in the teaching and evaluation of their students. This can be assessed individually by instructors

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