Classroom Participation Increases Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is recognized as an important factor in quality of life and outcome achievement. The body of evidence supporting this theory has increased dramatically in recent years. But little research has examined how education influences emotional intelligence. “Some empirical findings suggest that emotional intelligence, unlike IQ, can be improved through learning and development opportunities,” said Jacqueline Landau of Salem State College, and lead author of a recent study on the effects of classroom participation on emotional intelligence. “The purpose of the present study is to explore the role participative classroom environments play in the development of college student’s emotional intelligence (EI), and whether EI is related to academic achievement.”

College classes offer students a very different experience than high school classrooms. In college, professors encourage interactions and peers participate through experiments, debates and other activities that force them to rely on emotional comprehension. Landau said, “The more engaging and participative the educational experience of students, the more opportunity they should have to develop emotional flexibility and resiliency, learn to read the emotions of others, and use their knowledge of emotions to help guide their actions.”

To determine if the actively engaging environment increased EI, Landau surveyed over 200 undergraduate students. She found that overall, even though men participated more than women, the setting provided benefits to EI. “As we predicted, supportive climate was positively related to emotional intelligence,” said Landau. ”The supportive climate scale included items related to support by both faculty and peers.” Landau noted that the interaction between the peers provided a more robust opportunity for emotional intelligence than the professor-student relationship. But she also discovered that academic performance was not linked to EI. “Our results also showed, in accordance with a couple of previous studies, that emotional intelligence was not related to GPA.” Landau added, “Future research should consider how personality variables may interact with participation variables to influence GPA. Future studies could also consider whether EI might be related to important outcomes for college students other than EI, for example the ability to find a job.”

Landau, Jacqueline, and Gavriel Meirovich. “DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS’ EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: PARTICIPATIVE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION.” Academy of Educational Leadership Journal 15.3 (2011): 89-104. Print.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • D.Carlson


    November 9th, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    If Emotional Intelligence can help one to identify and react better to others and understand oneself even better then yes it would surely help a student in landing a job. the interviewers are generally professionals in what they do and this high EI will definitely be spotted by them as possible benefit to the organization.

  • Charla


    November 9th, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    This is great to know, but I think that there are many incoming freshmen who will find it difficult to interact and participate in class because they might be overwhelmed by the class size or even intimidated. So part of the instructor’s job has to be making the students feel confident in addition to teaching all relevant material. From my experience there are few college professors who will see this kind of development of the Emotional IQ to be there job. Many of them are there for the material and the material only and do not think or care too much about the life of the student beyond the classroom. Typically this is why they have chosen higher education vs. K-12.

  • Brenda


    November 12th, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    A good teacher is going to find a way to develop even the toughest kids. You have to not only teach them the classroom material but teach them to be a good person too, and the things that they can do to constantly improve themselves. Good teachers, like I sad, know this. The problem is that there are far too few good teachers in the classroom today. The good ones have really been put off by the lack of money and respect that they should receive.

  • zane


    November 13th, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    For me, it was not until I went to college that I was able to discover my true and authentic self. My professors gave the ability to finally put into practice who I felt like I was and the things that I was feeling. They gave me the voice to express that. o say that it is their responsibility is a lot. I think that they give you the essential skills to find it, but ultimately it is up to you to cultivate and grow that knowledge into something that you can use in life.

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