Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?
Sona Ahuja: I am a teacher-educator working in department of pedagogical sciences at Dayalbagh Educational Institute (Agra, India).
My initial interest was in mathematics. Learning mathematics was natural and irresistible for me. Even when I was stuck with a mathematics problem, it never disappointed me. I knew it has solution for sure, I just have to make efforts to find it. And the experience of getting the solution was so satisfying. After completing masters in mathematics, it was astonishing for me to know over the time that not all students appreciate the beauty of mathematics. Even at middle school level, there were students who said maths! NO! its difficult. I helped some of my friends and juniors with their maths problems. Then there was a sudden shift. I thought teaching mathematics is more interesting than studying mathematics. I tried to find ways to make mathematics more interesting and explore effective techniques of teaching the same. In this process, I shifted to study of pedagogical sciences. This is how I entered the field of preparing prospective teachers.
RB: What is the role of non-verbal communication in teaching and learning and how effective is it?
SA: While exploring pedagogical practices, I observed that apart from content mastery, one of the significant factors which differentiate a teacher from the other teachers is the intricacy of using and consciously interpreting the non-verbal cues in classroom transaction. Content mastery does not ensure successful pedagogy. With the experimental study at the doctoral level, I found that the cognizance and appropriate use of non-verbal communication can dynamically change the experience of teaching. A teacher conscious of the non-verbal cues of students can channelize their attention in class who are otherwise left untreated. It enables teacher to create and sustain attention and interest in the class. The varying non-verbal stimuli can reinforce learning. In my study, the results showed that the prospective teachers who were oriented to appropriate and conscious use of non-verbal communication, and given feedback for its use during internship for two months, were successful in improving academic achievement of students and changing their learning experience.
RB: The Consciousness Quotient (CQ) is a composite construct, based on traits, skills and abilities, which aims to describe conscious experience. How did you become interested in this?
SA: I attended the inaugural workshop of Centre for Consciousness Studies (CCS) in the institute where I am working presently (Dayalbagh Educational Institute – DEI). The presentations in this workshop raised my curiosity in this field. Later, I attended a Basic Course on Neuro-Sciences and Cognitive Sciencesat the same centre and the research colloquia series organized there. The discussions raised my curiosity even more. I started studying and exploring more about it. Though I have mathematics background academically but my later interest in research was Educational Psychology (being a teacher educator). It was interesting to read mind. So I thought of studying this construct from the perspective of psychologist. During this, I came across CQ theory. I presented this concept for further discussion at CCS, DEI. Initially there were repercussions and rigorous discussions as the audience included researchers from varied disciplines like physics, computer science, biology, quantum physics and cognitive science. There were questions like how CQ-i can measure consciousness? Who are the experts who have validated the measure? How reliable it is?
I had discussions with the author (Dr. Brazdau) who was kind enough to answer all my related queries and share his research work related to CQ-i. I started conducting various researches using CQ-i, became member of CQ-i team. The recent version is more comprehensive one. In psychology, no attribute can be measured in absolute as in physical sciences. I could not find more comprehensive explanation of this construct as in CQ-i. It has opened up the possibility of exploration of CQ as a variable in psychological assessment.
RB: What are the main factors of The Consciousness Quotient?
Get the Full Experience
Read the rest of this article, and view all articles in full from just £10 for 3 months.