Creating an information literacy atmosphere through aesthetic design: A research synthesis with application towards instructional design and information literacy instruction.


Visually aesthetic design is an important part of the human experience. Colors, design and other elements of design have a marked impact on behavior and emotion. In this paper the author will make the argument that visually aesthetic design as it pertains to information literacy instruction in the classroom and online is a key tool for instructional designers and instructional librarians. We are judged by the first impression we make and aesthetically pleasing design will help engage 21st century learners. The research design is a unique mix of a research synthesis of empirical research and literature from cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, product design, web design, human computer interaction, instructional design theory, E-learning, and library instruction; Throughout the research synthesis the author will connect the empirical research, theory, and best practices in the field of instructional design, library instruction, and information literacy.

Design is not a substitute for substance and correct learning design and theory, rather it is an enhancer and a way to gain credibility, and engage a wide variety of students and influence life-long informed learning. Throughout the paper the author will illustrate the importance of design in information literacy instruction and online learning. Information literacy, research methods, and critical thinking skills are not intuitive for the majority of students. Educators and designers need to engage students in every way possible to help them with information retention. Visually aesthetic design is another teaching strategy, which serves equally in the classroom or online, that can support the crucial skills of information literacy and lasting information retention.


378 U.S. 184 (1964). Jacobellis v. Ohio Retrieved from:

Alexander, T. M. (1998). The art of life: Dewey’s aesthetics. In L. A. Hickman (Eds.),Reading Dewey: Interpretations for a postmodern generation (pp. 1–22). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press
Alsudani, F., Casey, M. (2009). The Effect of Aesthetics On Web Credibility. British Computer Society: Retrieved From:

Aslam, N. (2012). Use of Colors in Web and graphic Design. Retrieved from:

Anderson, S. (2009). In Defense of Eye Candy.
Boulton, M. (2005). “Aesthetic-Usability Effect.” Retrieved from:

David, A., Glore, P. (2011). The Impact of Design and Aesthetics on Usability, Credibility, and Learning in an Online Environment.

David Robins and Jason Holmes. 2008. Aesthetics and credibility in web site design. Inf. Process. Manage. 44, 1 (January 2008), 386-399. DOI= Retrieved from:

Dewey, J. (1916).Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press

Dewey, J. (1934/1989). Art as experience. (Vol. 10). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Dirksen, J. (2011). Design For How People Learn. New Riders; 1 edition (November 17, 2011)

Carroll, John (1963/1989). A Model of School Learning.

Eisner, E. W. (1982). Aesthetic Education. In H.E. Mitzel (Ed.),Encyclopedia of Educational Research(5thed). New York: The Free Press

Gailliot, M.T, et al. (2007). Self-Control relies on glucose as a limited energy sources: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Halsey, V. (2011). Brilliance By Design: Creating Learning Experiences that Connect, Inspire, and Engage. Barret Koehler Publishing.

Hancock, D. (2004). Improving the Environment in Distance Learning Courses through the Application of Aesthetic Principles.

Hassenzahl, M. (2004). Beautiful objects as an extension of the self: A reply.Human-Computer Interaction, 19(4), 377–386. doi: 10.1207/s15327051hci1904_7

Hekkert, P. (2006). Design aesthetics: principles of pleasure in design. Psychology Science, Volume 48, 2006 (2), p. 157 - 172. Retrieved from:

Kurosu, M., & Kashimura, K. (1995). Apparent usability vs inherent usability: Experimental analysis on the determinants of the apparent usability.
Leddy, Tom (2013). Dewey's Aesthetics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
Mason, C. (1989). Towards A Philosophy of Education. Retrieved from:
Martin, Barbara L. (1986). Aesthetics and Media: Implications for the Design of Instruction. Educational Technology; 26(6)15-21 Jun.
Miller, C. (2011). Aesthetics and e-assessment: the interplay of emotional design and learner performance. Distance Education, 32(3), 307-337.
Miller, C., Veletsianos, G. & Doering, A. (2008). Examining the interplay of aesthetics and the learner experience in an online assessment environment. In K. McFerrin, R. Weber, R. Carlsen & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008 (pp. 1208-1210). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved March 16, 2016 from
Mintzer, M. Z., & Snodgrass, J. G. (1999). The picture superiority effect: Support for the distinctiveness model. The American Journal of Psychology, 112-146.

Muraven, M,. Tice, Dianne, Baumeister, R. (1998).Self-Control as Limited Resource: Regulatory Depletion Patterns. Retrieved from:

Nielsen, J. (2012). Usability 101: Introduction to Usability.

Norman, D. A. (2002). The design of everyday things. New York: Basic Books. (The re-issue, with a new preface, of the psychology of everyday things.) Published in Italian as “La caffettiera del masochista.”

Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.

Norman, D. A. (2004). Designers and Users: Two perspective on Emotion and Design. Northwestern University:

O’Nolan, J. (2009). The Difference Between Art and Design. Web Design Depot. Retrieved From:

Parrish, P. (2009). Aesthetic principles for instructional design. Educational Technology Research & Development, 57(4), 511-528. doi:10.1007/s11423-007-9060-7
Thornhill, Randy,(2003). Darwinian Aesthetics Informs Traditional Aesthetics. in Voland, Eckart and Karl Grammer (editors), Evolutionary Aesthetics, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag

Tractinsky, Noam (2014): Visual Aesthetics. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.. Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. Available online at

Song, Hyunjin and Norbert Schwartz. (2009). If its difficult to pronounce, it must be risky. Psychological Science 20 (2).
Ulrich, K. (2008). Aesthetics in Design. Retrieved from:

Williams, R. (1994). The Non-Designers Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Williams, R. (1998). The Non-Designers Type Book: Insights and Techniques for Creating Professional - level type. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press

Wilson, B. (2005). Broadening our foundation for instructional design: four pillars of practice. Educational technology, 45(2). 10-15

Zhang, P. (2009). Theorizing the relationship between affect and aesthetics in the ICT design and use context. Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Information Resources Management, (pp 1-15). Dubai, United Arab Emirates
How to Cite
. Creating an information literacy atmosphere through aesthetic design: A research synthesis with application towards instructional design and information literacy instruction.. International Journal for Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, may 2017. ISSN 2472-5161. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 11 nov. 2019.


Aesthetics; Library Instruction; Information Literacy; Instructional Design; Best practices