Nursery Rhymes in College: Pedagogical and Psychological Value

Proceedings of The 7th International Conference on Research in Humanities and Social Sciences

Year: 2023



Nursery Rhymes in College: Pedagogical and Psychological Value

Dr. Alexandra Jeikner





In response to research that suggests that in tertiary institutions, student learning and emotional wellbeing are impacted significantly by academic demands, this paper investigates the pedagogical and psychological value of including nursery rhymes in a university course syllabus. It is based on the personal experience of teaching a children’s literature course and informed by the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) that invites instructors to reflect on their teaching practices and classroom experiences as well as to share insights to promote scholarly discussion. To answer the research question of whether and to what extent the inclusion of different versions of one select nursery rhyme affected the students’ learning experience, an exploratory research design was employed. Validity was established through the application of triangulation by using multiple datasets, both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, and assessment through two learning theories. Elements of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model were adapted to understand the impact on student performance and satisfaction as well as classroom atmosphere and morale. While contradictory insights resulted from the quantitative and qualitative analysis, they indicate that using select versions of one nursery rhyme as a scaffolding tool can be useful, particularly for students unfamiliar with analytical reading as well as critical synthesizing and contextualizing. Such scaffolding allows for a more gradual introduction to literary analysis that can activate prior knowledge, encourage curiosity, and increase active learning, thereby reducing academic anxiety that often results in declining interest and negative psychological wellbeing.

keywords: active learning, anxiety-reduction, literary analysis, SoTL