The affective dimensions of learning are feelings, emotions, and self-esteem. Caine and Caine (1991) note:
"We do not simply learn. What we learn is influenced and organized by emotions and mind sets based on expectancy, personal biases and prejudices, degree of self-esteem, and the need for social interaction. ... [Emotions] operate on many levels, somewhat like the weather. They are ongoing, and the emotional impact of any lesson or life experience may continue to reverberate long after the specific event." (p. 82)
According to Rosenfield (1988), emotions have an important connection to memory; emotions help to store information and also trigger its recall. Caine and Caine (1991) add:
"The emotional depth and range that students have...affect their actual capacity to grasp ideas and procedures. Similarly, content that is emotionally sterile is made more difficult to understand. ... To teach someone any subject adequately, the subject must be embedded in all the elements that give it meaning. People must have a way to relate to the subject in terms of what is personally important, and this means acknowledging both the emotional impact and their deeply held needs and drives. Our emotions are integral to learning. When we ignore the emotional components of any subject we teach, we actually deprive students of meaningfulness." (p. 58)
Self-esteem also is related to the affective domain. How students feel about themselves as learners and how schools help students develop self-confidence are important components in achievement. Caine and Caine (1991) note the importance of the school's "emotional climate" in affecting student learning:
"Teachers need to understand that students' feelings and attitudes will be involved and will determine future learning. Because it is impossible to isolate the cognitive from the affective domain, the emotional climate in the school and classroom must be monitored on a consistent basis, using effective communication strategies and allowing for student and teacher reflection and metacognitive processes. In general, the entire environment needs to be supportive and marked by mutual respect and acceptance both within and beyond the classroom." (p. 82)
When students feel good about themselves as learners, they are willing to take the risks and focus the attention necessary for further learning. Students are more willing to tackle tasks if they believe they can be successful. When students feel defeated or unable to learn in schools, the problems of teaching them become very difficult. That is why many reading programs insist on early intervention before students develop negative feelings about their own abilities and about their willingness to participate and take risks in school learning.