Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Second Advisor

Bin Ramke

Third Advisor

Paul Michalec

Fourth Advisor

Norma Hafenstein


Aesthetic curriculum, Aesthetics, Arts-based research, Classroom research, Educational connoisseurship and criticism, Elliot Eisner


Aesthetic learning experiences are grounded in qualities influenced by the arts: perceptive, sensorial, imaginative, and creative. While the concept of aesthetic experience has been applied broadly within education, student expressions of such experiences have been neglected. This poses a problem of equity both ethically in that the suppression of student voice is perpetuated and pragmatically in that the range and form of aesthetic learning expressed by students is insufficiently attended to and acted upon.

Theoretically guided by John Dewey’s explications of an aesthetic experience and conceptually supported by three interpretive frames—Eisner’s dimensions of schooling, Uhrmacher et al.’s instructional arc, and Uhrmacher’s aesthetic themes of education—this research qualitatively explored K-8 student expressions of aesthetic learning experiences at one rural school in the western U.S. via the following research question: What are student expressions of aesthetic learning experiences? Additionally, I addressed three sub-questions: 1) What are the teacher’s intentions in creating conditions for aesthetic learning experiences?, 2) How are these intentions enacted in the classroom?, and 3) How do students respond to aesthetic learning experiences—that is, what do students say, do, and create?

My research employed an educational criticism and connoisseurship approach to perceive, disclose, and appraise qualities inherent in student aesthetic learning experiences through three sources of data: classroom observations, teacher and student interviews, and curricular, pedagogical, visual, and community artifacts. The findings from this inquiry suggest that student expressions of aesthetic learning experiences materialized across three focal points—music, place, and composition—and were influenced by the teacher’s intentions to cultivate a love of learning within her students. From these findings, I consider four anticipatory frameworks and their implications for diverse contexts: savoring inefficiency, constructing ordinary imaginaries, sense-making and space-making in the curriculum, and becoming in place with others.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jodie L. Wilson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

285 pgs