Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Education Evaluation and Research

First Advisor

Karen L. Tonso


The study was used to develop an understanding of the nature of a creative learning experience that incorporated the foundational elements of Reggio Emilia, place-based education, and experience design. The study took place in an urban high school with eight students in an advanced placement art class. The qualitative research project revolved around the pollinator garden that the science teacher planted in the year prior to the study and the garden that was planted in the spring. Students were asked to create an art project that could withstand the Michigan climate. The science teacher lectured on elements of the pollinator garden, with the researcher showing examples of other artist's works found in natural settings. The students were asked to research, develop, and create a unique piece for the garden. The work was to be completed in the 6-week card marking. Qualitative data for the study were collected through the researchers' field notes, personal journal, student journals, interviews, and students' finished projects. After six weeks, the students completed their projects and six of the eight projects were hung in the garden. Participating in the study was the first time in their education that the students had opportunities to be autonomous in choosing their projects, deciding on the appropriate media, and completing the artwork on a specific schedule. During the study, the students became collegial and collaborative, offering suggestions and critiquing each other's work. The students grew educationally in a number of ways. They learned to work independently in planning and completing their art projects. They saw the link between science and art and they moved from being competitive to being cooperative. The students became engage with the environment as well as incorporating elements of the environment in their artwork. Further research is needed to determine if students in high school art classes could link the environment, science, and art to build a more comprehensive, inclusive, and cross curricular learning experience by completing similar projects to enhance their schools environment and develop an understanding of the interconnectedness between education and its practical applications.