Some adults can approach formal educational settings with anxiety and feelings of high or low self-efficacy. Their approach to new learning contexts can be influenced by how they appraise or evaluate the new experience.
For example: given two adults in a classroom where an exercise is about to begin, one individual may interpret the exercise in such a way that leads to a feeling of ‘excitement’, while the other person interprets the exercise in such a way that leads to the feeling of ’embarrassment’. It is self evident that the way the individual interprets the situation and the subsequent emotion that arises, will affect the kind of action the individual is to take. (Burns, 1995, p.16)
Burns considers that such appraisals, coupled with labels such as ‘fear’ or ‘anxiety’ can lead some learners to emotionally disengage from the source of discomfort that is the learning experience. However, when coupled with labels such as ‘excitement’ or ‘challenge’ the learner is led to take actions that focus on the task.
This is about adults but it could also be relevant to students as the way that they appraise a situation has an effect on the way they interpret the exercise and the level of engagement they feel with the overall learning experience. Feeling anxious or stressed about a task leads to an uncomfortable learning experience. A suitable environment may provide an inspired response that changes the way the individual views the task at hand.