Date of Award

Spring 2012

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Sarah Stitzlein


This dissertation provides a novel conception of educative encounter as a means of providing a pedagogical framework for directing experience in the classroom for the purpose of cultivating growth, and specifically cultivating care (N. Noddings, 2003a). By honing in on encounter as the relational aspect of experience, emphasizing the importance of the relational quality of the learning experience, and articulating a different approach to teaching in higher education, this conception helps educators attend to strengthening learning outcomes oriented towards the growth of students. This serves towards the illumination of learning through and for educative encounter by addressing both the meaning of educative encounter and what constitutes ideal ones. To accomplish this, analysis is done of three philosophers. The analysis begins with John Dewey. Dewey's strongest contribution to my articulation of educative encounter is his idea on subject-object knowing (McDermott, 1981). Next, the work of Martin Buber is taken into consideration. Buber, with his concept of I-Thou encounter offers a foundation for Dewey's subject-object knowing (Buber, 1958b). Finally, the work of Nel Noddings is brought under analysis. Noddings, in her care theory, delineates a caring relationship in which both members of the relationship are aware of the care-giving and receiving. I then synthesize the work of these philosophers to build the conception of encounter, considering how a person experiences the three core arenas, in which encounter is manifested (self, others and the world). Attention is finally turned to the Classroom CARE model, which I have developed to foster the implementation of educative encounter in higher education by focusing on four pedagogically interrelated strands: community, action, reflection and environment.

I argue that the novel conception of encounter offered in this dissertation has much to contribute to education. It is meaningful because it includes moral education by focusing on how we meet each other in a manner to promote growth, goes beyond subject mastery, has applicability in all disciplines, adds to the philosophical conversation on the importance of encounter for education and takes Dewey, Noddings and Buber into higher education, an area in which each philosopher has had less uptake.