Section Name

Research Articles


Students’ emotional responses often provide valuable indicators of whether they are languishing or flourishing in their first-year classes, including introductory communication courses. Grading often exerts a strong influence on students’ emotions. However, though students generally have positive moods after receiving high marks and negative ones when their grades are low, the intensity of these responses varies considerably. The current study examines whether Higgins’ (2012) regulatory fit theory accounts for students’ differing moods after receiving grades on introductory speech assignments. According to this perspective, prevention focus students use vigilance to avoid adverse outcomes. Thus, low evaluations provide a regulatory fit for prevention focus students by evoking feelings of alarm or distress that increase vigilance. Promotion focus students use eagerness to make gains progressively. High grades create a regulatory fit for promotion focus students by producing feelings of excitement that contribute to eagerness. When grading does not provide regulatory fit, prevention, and promotion focus, students will experience feelings of relief and discouragement. In the current study, each of these hypotheses was confirmed and support the principle that the fit between student regulatory focus and feedback sign explain student emotional responses to grading. These findings contribute to research and pedagogy in the introductory communication course.

Keywords: Instructional feedback, grading, feedback sign, regulatory fit, prevention focus, promotion focus, regulatory congruence, public speaking.



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