Skip to main content

A Sense of Awe: A Tool for Enhancing Science Instruction

Recent research on awe has shown there are significant relationships between having a sense of awe and a range of other outcomes, including an increased sense of time, humility, comfort with uncertainty, increased motivation to learn, enhanced memory, a greater sense of curiosity, increased causal- explanatory reasoning, feeling a connection to others and prosocial behavior, work ethic, an openness to modify one’s worldview, and enhanced science reasoning. 

Most promising for teaching and learning science is the finding that awe evokes interest, curiosity and a desire to understand the unknown, and there is a dearth of research on the use of awe in science instruction. Schools today struggle with preparing students for achievement tests and often the more innovative aspects of teaching are put aside for test preparation. The broad goal of this project is to promote science pedagogy that is “intentionally designed to evoke meaning and connection by purposefully pushing toward a sense of the unknown, awe, and beauty” (Gilbert & Byers, 2017, p. 916). This team will document teachers’ experiences with awe, explore the contexts of these experiences, and determine whether or not teachers use awe in their instruction. Through focused case studies, they will investigate whether the inclusion of awe into science instruction can increase students’ interests and motivation in science. 

This project is funded by a Catalyst Grant from the Friday Institute and NC State College of Education.


  • Friday Institute for Educational Innovation Friday Institute for Educational Innovation
  • NC State College of Education NC State College of Education
  • Teams

  • Computer Science For All Computer Science For All
  • Innovations in STEM Education Research Innovations in STEM Education Research
  • Project Team

    Dr Gail Jones Dr Gail Jones

    Dr Sarah J. Carrier Dr Sarah J. Carrier

    Dr Cesar Delgado Dr Cesar Delgado

    Dr Jill Freiberg Grifenhagen Dr Jill Freiberg Grifenhagen

    Pamela Huff Pamela Huff

    Julianna Nieuwsma Julianna Nieuwsma

    Emma Jane Refvem Emma Jane Refvem

    Kathryn Rende Kathryn Rende