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Young students’ aesthetic experiences and meaning making processes in an outdoor environmental school practice
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4388-7970
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5269-1451
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4483-0597
2017 (English)In: Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, ISSN 1472-9679, E-ISSN 1754-0402, Vol. 17, no 2, 108-121 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study uses John Dewey’s theoretical concept of ‘aesthetic experience’ in empirically exploring expressions of cognition and emotion in students’ meaning-making processes. A case study was conducted in one class of Grade 6 students during a single school semester. This article reports results from five outdoor days. The empirical material consists of observations, field notes, logbook entries, interviews and students’ written reflections. The students’ meaning-making processes were analyzed through the Deweyan theory of an initial phase involving anticipation, an activity phase with courses of actions and a concluding phase with reflections that serve as fulfillments. Expressions of aesthetic experience were identified in four important components of the students’ meaning-making processes: prior personal experiences; responses to environments and artifacts; social interaction; and situations allowing for responsibility, trust and independence. A more in-depth process-oriented analysis revealed that aesthetic experiences are vital in continuous meaning-making processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 17, no 2, 108-121 p.
Keyword [en]
Aesthetic experience, meaning-making, outdoor and environmental education, emotions
National Category
Pedagogical Work Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101822DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2016.1219872OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-101822DiVA: diva2:802856
Available from: 2015-04-13 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Känsla, förståelse och värdering: elevers meningsskapande i skolaktiviteter om miljö-och hållbarhetsfrågor
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Känsla, förståelse och värdering: elevers meningsskapande i skolaktiviteter om miljö-och hållbarhetsfrågor
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Emotions, understandings, and values : students' meaning-making in school activities regarding environmental and sustainability issues
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on young students’ experiences and meaning-making processes in school practices within environmental and sustainability education. Earlier research has shown this to be an area of complexity; besides a transdisciplinary perspective requiring relational thinking, it also involves conflicting interests as well as emotions and values. With a certain interest in emotions being part of learning as a meaning-making process, this thesis aims to investigate the character of experiencing, and the function of aesthetic experience in environmental and sustainability education. Through a mixed-methods approach a comprehensive questionnaire was used in the first study, and a more in-depth case study investigated the most important findings from the questionnaire even further in the second one by using multiple data. 209 students, age 10-12, from six different schools in Sweden answered the questionnaire. One class in grade six participated in the case study during four months, where both in- and out-of-door activities were studied. Both qualitative content analyses, and quantitative statistics were used to analyze the material from the two studies. Furthermore, John Dewey’s theoretical perspectives and neo-Aristotelian philosophers, mainly Martha Nussbaum, guided the interpretations of the empirical results. The main findings show that young students’ experiences in environmental and sustainability education are characterized by relational understandings both within and among ecologic, economic and social aspects, but also that perceived school activities of a value-laden and more cognitive kind correlated. The results further show that aesthetic experiences function as links in the transactional and continuous processes of meaning making. Furthermore, of importance for students’ meaning making and formation of values in environmental and sustainability were also prior experiences, encounters with outdoor environments and artifacts (both natural and digital), social interactions and felt independence. A holistic picture of understanding, emotions and values hence appear as an intertwined unity in students’ written responses, action and talk. A conclusion suggests that contributing to students’ possibilities of making meaning in environmental and sustainability issues requires openness to personal emotions and values as a starting point. Activities allowing for social interaction, independence, and relevant contextual encounters should also be considered in the pedagogical practice of environmental and sustainability education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2015. 113+ 4 artiklar p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 61
Series
Umeå Studies in the Educational Sciences, 5
Keyword
environmental and sustainability education, experiences, meaning-making, aesthetics, young students, miljö- och hållbarhetsutbildning, erfarande, meningsskapande, yngre elever
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work; didactics of natural science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101785 (URN)978-91-7601-238-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-08, Naturvetarhuset, N320, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-04-17 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2015-10-27Bibliographically approved

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