Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focuses on the use of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to acquire and analyse student's life-centric experiences in an undergraduate early childhood course entitled, “Philosophy in Action”. The course has as a foundational belief that a teacher's sense of identity is central to effective teaching. As such, this research sought to capture the essence of the connection between students’ beliefs about early childhood teaching and the real world of practice. Design/methodology/approach – Using an AI approach peak performances were analysed for causes of success and emergent themes, after which provocative propositions and an action plan were co-constructed. Findings – The findings of this research evoke discourse around the influence of the student-teacher relationship as a means of enhancing life centric learning experiences in educational programmes. Originality/value – The authors wondered whether an AI approach to a course evaluation might open themes that show a taken-for-granted depth of the learning experiences. The authors were not disappointed.