Prof. Cavanagh: Engaging Students in Learning Amid a Pandemic

Feb 16, 2021

Assumption Psychology Professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Ph.D., is an advocate for infusing emotion in the classroom, in both teaching and learning, as a way to help students manage their anxieties, boredom, and frustrations, especially during the pandemic. In her recent column, How to Play in the College Classroom in a Pandemic, and Why You Should, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Prof. Cavanagh shares how professors can “lighten things up in class that are emotionally, academically, and pedagogically sound.”

According to Prof. Cavanagh, “play”—or, involving students in an activity for enjoyment rather than solely for an academic or practical purpose–is one of the most natural ways we learn and it offers mental breaks from dire news. She suggests seven strategies professors can use to incorporate play in the college classroom, such as improve “warm up” activities, embrace movement, introduce a little levity, interrupt the usual routines, and know when to take a break. 

Prof. Cavanagh is a psychologist, professor, and associate director of Assumption’s D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence. She writes articles and presents lectures and workshops regarding her research on the contribution of emotions and emotion regulation to quality of life. Prof. Cavanagh is the author of Hivemind and The Spark of Learning