Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 801–824 | Cite as

Teaching and Learning Science for Transformative, Aesthetic Experience

  • Mark GirodEmail author
  • Todd Twyman
  • Steve Wojcikiewicz


Drawing from the Deweyan theory of experience (1934, 1938), the goal of teaching and learning for transformative, aesthetic experience is contrasted against teaching and learning from a cognitive, rational framework. A quasi-experimental design was used to investigate teaching and learning of fifth grade science from each perspective across an entire school year including three major units of instruction. Detailed comparisons of teaching are given and pre and post measures of interest in learning science, science identity affiliation, and efficacy beliefs are investigated. Tests of conceptual understanding before, after, and one month after instruction reveal teaching for transformative, aesthetic experience fosters more, and more enduring, learning of science concepts. Investigations of transfer also suggest students learning for transformative, aesthetic experiences learn to see the world differently and find more interest and excitement in the world outside of school.


Aesthetics Elementary Transformative experience Dewey Science Cognitive 


  1. Abraham, M. (1998). The learning cycle approach as a strategy for instruction in science. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 513–524). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1989). Project 2061: Science for all Americans. Washington DC: AAAS.Google Scholar
  3. Author. (2007). A critical analysis of aesthetics in science and science education. Studies in Science Education, 42, 38–61.Google Scholar
  4. Author. (2009). Evaluating the science and literacy connection by comparing three curricular units in second grade classrooms. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(3), 13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1997). Self- efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  6. Barton, A. C. (1998). Feminist science education. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, D. E., & Clement, J. (1989). Overcoming misconception via analogical reasoning: Abstract transfer versus explanatory model construction. Instructional Science, 18, 237–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chandrasekhar, S. (1987). Truth and beauty: Aesthetics and motivations in science. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Clement, J. (1982). Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics. American Journal of Physics, 50, 66–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clement, J. (1983). A conceptual model discussed by Galileo and used intuitively by physics students. In D. Gentner & A. L. Stevens (Eds.), Mental models (pp. 325–340). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. (1934/1980). Art as experience. New York: Berkley.Google Scholar
  13. Dewey, J. (1938/1998). Experience and education. West Lafayette, IN: Kappa Delta Pi.Google Scholar
  14. Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (Eds.). (1985). Children’s ideas in science. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fesmire, S. A. (1995). Educating the moral artist: Dramatic rehearsal in moral education. In J. Garrison (Ed.), The new scholarship on Dewey (pp. 45–60). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Fischer, E. P. (1999). Beauty and the beast: The aesthetic moment in science, (E. Oehlkers, Trans.). New York: Plenum Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  17. Flannery, M. (1991). Science and aesthetics: A partnership for science education. Science Education, 75(5), 577–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallagher, J. (2006). Teaching science for understanding. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  19. Garrison, J. (Ed.). (1995). The new scholarship on Dewey. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Germann, P. J. (1988). Development of the attitude toward science in school assessment and its use to investigate the relationship between science achievement and attitude toward science in school. Journal of Research in Science Teaching., 25, 689–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Girod, M., & Wong, D. (2001). The view from aesthetic understanding: A Deweyan perspective on science learning. The Elementary School Journal, 102, 199–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Girod, M., Rau, C., & Schepige, A. (2003). Appreciating the beauty of science ideas: Teaching for aesthetic understanding. Science Education, 87, 574–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  24. Glaser, B. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gleick, J. (1992). Genius. The life and science of Richard Feynman. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  26. Greene, M. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  27. Greeno, J. G., Collins, A. M., & Resnick, L. B. (1996). Cognition and learning. In D. Berliner & R. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 15–46). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  28. Halford, G. (1993). Children’s understanding: The development of mental models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Harding, S. (1991). Who science? Whose knowledge?. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jackson, P. (1995). If we took Dewey’s aesthetics seriously, how would the arts be taught? In J. Garrison (Ed.), The new scholarship on Dewey (pp. 25–34). Boston: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  31. Jackson, P. (1998). John Dewey and the lessons of art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Jakobson, B., & Wickman, P. (2007). The roles of aesthetic experience in elementary school science. Research in Science Education, 38, 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Karplus, R., & Their, H. (1967). A new look at elementary school science. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  34. Keller, E. (1985). Reflections on gender and science. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning, and values. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  37. Lemke, J. (2001). Articulating communities: Sociocultural perspectives on science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 296–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin, R., Sexton, C., Franklin, T., Gerlovich, J., & McElroy, D. (2008). Teaching science for all children (5th ed.). New York: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  39. McAllister, J. W. (1996). Beauty and revolution in science. Cornell University Press: New York.Google Scholar
  40. McCloskey, M. (1983). Naïve theories of motion. In D. Gentner & A. L. Stevens (Eds.), Mental models (pp. 299–323). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. McCloskey, M., Caramazza, A., & Green, B. (1980). Curvilinear motion in the absence of external forces: Naïve beliefs about the motion of objects. Science, 210, 1139–1141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moyer, R. (2006). Teaching science as investigations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  43. National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy of Education.Google Scholar
  44. Pajares, F. (1996). Self-efficacy beliefs in academic settings. Review of Educational Research, 66, 543–578.Google Scholar
  45. Pintrich, P. R., & DeGroot, E. V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 33–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W., & Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66, 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pugh, K. J., & Bergin, D. (2005). The effect of schooling on students’ out-of-school experience. Educational Researcher, 34(9), 15–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pugh, K., & Girod, M. (2007). Science, art and experience: Constructing a science pedagogy from Dewey’s aesthetics. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18(1), 9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Resnick, L. (1987). Learning in school and out. Educational Researcher, 16, 13–20.Google Scholar
  50. Root-Bernstein, R., & Root-Bernstein, R. (1999). Sparks of genius. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  51. Schunk, D., & Zimmerman, B. (2006). Competence and control beliefs: Distinguishing the means and ends. In P. Alexander & P. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed., pp. 349–367). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  52. Shusterman, R. (1992). Pragmatist aesthetics: Living beauty, rethinking art. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  53. Slavin, R. E. (2009). Educational psychology: Theory and practice (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.Google Scholar
  54. Tinbergen, N. (1958/1969). Curious naturalists. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books and the American Museum of Natural History.Google Scholar
  55. Vosniadou, S. (2008). International handbook of research on conceptual change. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Wickman, P. (2006). Aesthetic experience in science education. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  57. Wyer, M., Barbercheck, M., Giesman, D., Öztörk, H., & Wayne, M. (Eds.). (2001). Women, science and technology. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Teacher EducationWestern Oregon UniversityMonmouthUSA

Personalised recommendations