, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 73–83 | Cite as

Emotion and Rhythm in Critical Learning Incidents



In this paper, we analyzed the descriptions of learning provided by 234 College of Education students from Finland and Canada and compared them with Whitehead’s (1932/1962) epistemological theory of the rhythm of mental growth. The students were asked to “Give a concrete example of a situation in which you really learned something.” The descriptions of learning provided by the students were analyzed using a constant comparative method. This analysis resulted in the identification of six primary aspects of learning: emotional significance, reflection, differing perspectives, collaboration, autonomy, and dialogue. When examined in the context of student descriptions, the aspects of learning seemed to occur in rhythmic patterns. These findings led us to conclude that Whitehead’s theory of mental growth has merit and could inform new theories of learning that take into account human aesthetic experience.


Qualitative methods critical incidents rhythm of mental growth freedom discipline aesthetic aspects of learning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.College of EducationUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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