Review of the Affective Domain

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Hsiao-chi Chen

Indiana University in Bloomington

Brief Overview

The chapter of Teaching and Learning in Affective Domain, written by Mary Miller, from the University of Georgia, discusses the theories of attitude formation and attitude change and the applications in teaching and learning. As researchers point out, any cognitive behavior always includes affection. Affective Learning reflects the values and beliefs we place on the information we have. It refers to our attitudes and willingness to take part in new things. Although there are some difficulties in measuring the process of attitude formation and change, affective domain plays an important role in education.

Key Points

  • Attitudes have three main components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral.
    • The affective component consists of positive and negative feelings associated with the attitude object
    • The cognitive component comprises beliefs about and perceptions of the attitude object
    • The behavioral component is made up of response tendencies and overt actions related to the attitude object
  • Attitude change is any alteration in the direction, degree, or intensity of an attitude. There are three main approaches to attitude change: "providing a persuasive message, modeling and reinforcing appropriate behavior and inducing dissonance between the cognitive, affective and behavioral components of the attitude."
  • Although attitudes cannot be directly observed, instructional technology research findings do generally suggest that "mediated instruction does contribute to desired attitudinal outcomes in learners, especially when the instruction is designed specifically to produce certain attitudes or attitude changes" (Simonson & Maushak)
  • Zimbardo and Leippe pointed out that the more thought-through an attitude is, the more resistant it is to change. Some attitudes have a high degree of resistance and are well protected from external influence, while other may depend on external effects.

Strenghts and Weaknesses

There are many strengths to this particular chapter. I note a few below.


The title appropriately indicates the contour of the whole context. Besides, the layout is well structured and is complete in presenting the key points of each section of the article. The author provides details and accurate statements so that readers can acquire a complete idea about what is teaching and learning in affective domain.

Three examples presented in the beginning provide readers with the real cases which help readers explain the definitions and theories. After explaining the definition and theories, the author points out the three examples again. In addition, she explains how to combine the teaching strategies with theories and help the student build new attitudes and behaviors. Thus, the theories applied in the cases help the readers build a concrete concept.

The author proves the value of attitude learning in affective domain. The ideas are backed up with sufficient evidence through the chapter. Additionally, the author makes the connections by employing the organizational features such as chapters, sections, and paragraphs so that the readers can follow the author’s ideas step by step.

In addition to the strengths, there are many weaknesses as well.


According social learning theory, learning occurs within a social context. So, the models’ behavior affects the observers’ behavior. There are different types of models. For example, people demonstrating behaviors around us are the live models. Besides, a symbolic model can be a person or action portrayed in some other medium as in art, merchandise, or advertising. However, the writer seems to overemphasize the importance of medium and neglect the influence of people in daily life.

The writer refers to Krathwohl's affective domain taxonomy which is under the section of theories. As a reader, I think this organization will make the readers become confused. To make the article clearer, the writer should expand another section to discuss this point.

In a formal academic article, the writer should provide clear and concrete definitions for each term rather than only referring to some key points. For example, the writer only points out “Receiving / Attending - willingness to become aware.” To make it concrete, I suggest that the explanation for the term “receiving” should be extended: Receiving refers to the student's ability and willingness to pay attention to specific stimuli. Examples include: to differentiate, to accept, to listen (for), and to respond to.

Since the presentation of credible and persuasive message is a key component of attitude instruction, the writer should provide more concrete and organized information of persuasive messages instead of referring to it intermittently. For example, the effective determinant in persuasive message can be listed in the article which allows the readers to acquire a clear picture in persuasive message.


Most educational systems evaluate students’ performances by their proficiency of cognitive objectives rather than the affective goals. This is a neglected area because affective characteristics are not directly observable, or easily measured. The author explained specifically the relationship between the attitude learning and instruction which makes the instructors know more about the importance of instruction in the affective domain. For example, affective characteristics can be imparted within an informal environment, or structured activities such as role playing, simulations, and using videos. This chapter provides readers many theories and various instructional strategies to help us implement in our real life and thus assist the learners acquire the desired attitude formation or change.