Here’s a selection of research and other reports related to learning and the environment collated by Natural England.

The Impact of Participation in an Outdoor Education Program on Physical Education Teacher Education Student Self-efficacy to Teach Outdoor Education
K Hovey, D Niland, JT Foley – Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
Results indicated a significant increase in self-efficacy scores from pre- to post-test in all content areas (OE skills, Group Dynamic skills, Models and Theories). Overall, the OE program had a large effect in changing self-efficacy scores. Participation in the program positively affected PETE students’ self-efficacy for teaching OE, which may improve their ability to ultimately teach this content in physical education settings.

College Students and Nature: Differing Thoughts of Fear, Danger, Disconnection, and Loathing
DE Taylor – Environmental Management
This paper analyzes racial, gender, class, and academic differences in the way college students think about nature. The study found that white students are less likely than racial/ethnic minorities to think about disconnection, predators, getting lost, loathsome or hateful places, fear, and danger when they think of nature. However, the results also show that it would be inaccurate to describe racial/ethnic minorities as universally fearful of and disconnected from nature. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that race is not the only explanatory variable that has significant impacts in multivariate models. Gender, age, parental education, and first-generation college attendance also has significant impacts on the dependent variables.

Natural based Learning for Early Childhood Cognitive Development
R Amiliya, H Harun – International Conference on Special and Inclusive Education
The effectiveness of nature-based learning is evaluated by designing learning activities conducted by quasi-experimental method to 28 children. Two variables: Natural-based learning and cognitive development. The results show that there is a significant increase in early childhood cognitive development by 53.6%.

Teacher and student perceptions of an outdoor classroom
C Guardino, KW Hall, E Largo-Wight, C Hubbuch – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
A six-week study was conducted with two kindergarten teachers and 37 kindergarten students aged five and six to determine their perceptions of teaching and learning in a traditional indoor classroom compared to a newly constructed outdoor classroom. Quantitative observations and qualitative interview data revealed that both the teachers and the students reported an increased perception of wellbeing, pleasure, and interest when teaching and learning in the outdoor classroom. In addition, research assistants noted that the children with disabilities were less distracted and more on-task when working in the outdoor classroom.

An exploratory study of extreme sport athletes’ nature interactions: From well-being to pro-environmental behavior
TE MacIntyre et al – Frontiers in Psychology
The purpose of this study was to gain insight and understanding into the individuals’ attitudes towards the benefits of extreme sport activities for well-being, resilience and pro-environmental behavior. The findings convey great commonalities across the participants with regard to their mindset, their emotional well-being as well as their connectivity with nature and attitudes towards the natural environment. The cognitive-affective-social-behavioral linkage of the benefits of extreme sport participation for well-being, psychological recovery and pro-environmental behavior are highlighted.

The Compromises of Rewilding in Swedish Laponia: Implications for Nature Reconciliation
JR Leduc – The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies
In this paper we examine the human element to rewilding. This study is examined in the context of an upcoming river-based rewilding project in Swedish Laponia undertaken by Rewilding Lapland. The case reveals tensions with indigenous Sami reindeer herders, in particular over the role of predators in serving as exotic keystone species and more generally conflicts in environmental aesthetics over what wilderness is supposed to look like.

Measuring pro-environmental behavior: Review and recommendations
F Lange, S Dewitte – Journal of Environmental Psychology

  • Reviews approaches to the measurement of pro-environmental behavior.
  • Covers self-reports, field observations, and laboratory assessment.
  • Discusses strengths and weaknesses of measurement approaches.
  • Recommends measurement approaches and tools dependent on research objectives.
  • Highlights the need for psychometrically established measures.

Active Greening or Rewilding the city: How does the intention behind small pockets of urban green affect use?
Rachel S. Danford et al – Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
This paper explores actual use of informal green spaces by using behavioral measures of which user groups visits which type of informal green spaces and what activities users engage with at different site types.

A narrative and systematic review of the behavioural, cognitive and emotional effects of passive nature exposure on young people: Evidence for prescribing change
MF Norwood et al – Landscape and Urban Planning

  • Nature is prescribed by health experts but as an intervention it is under researched.
  • There are limited longitudinal or pre-post studies of nature and youth.
  • Passive nature exposure may promote positive changes in attention in youth.
  • Nature as part of school design may benefit young people’s cognitive development.
  • Real world outcomes are under researched and must become a focus.

Are protected areas (PAs) effective in conserving human connection with nature and enhancing pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs)?
V Cazalis, AC Prévot – Biological Conservation
This study modelled the link between three types of PEBs in Metropolitan France and the proximity to large PAs. It found that each of the studied PEBs decreased with distance of where people lived to PAs. Our results suggest that, beyond their effect through exposure to natural landscapes, PAs affect PEBs by the institutional context they create. Additionally, PEBs were higher inside PAs than in close surroundings, suggesting that, besides restrictions brought by PAs on inhabitants, a fraction of the population responds positively to their implementation.

The influence of spending time outside on experience of nature and environmental attitudes
Colléony, White & Shwartz  – Landscape and Urban Planning

  • Enhancing experiences of nature (EoN) is vital to achieve conservation agenda.
  • Pet dogs encourage people to go outdoors more often.
  • EoN and its outcomes for conservation significantly vary across countries.
  • Owning dogs influence EoN and relatedness to nature but not environmental attitudes.
  • Enhancing both quantity and quality of EoN is crucial to achieve conservation goals.

Waking Up to the Environmental Crises
PR Gibson – Ecopsychology
This essay names and discusses 11 of the underlying problems to environmental cirses (and correlative opportunities through understanding them): faith/belief in the system, Baconian science, the tendency for highly aware persons to be perceived as radicals, the habit of treading lightly at times in order to communicate with others, the severity of the problem, our fragmented perception of the cycles of nature, that we are often lied to, the difficulty and/or inability to deeply perceive nature, identification with consuming and cultural artifacts, confrontation with capitalism’s “forced choice,” and the processes of numbing and colonization.

Nurturing Nature and the Environment with Young Children: Children, Elders, Earth
Janice Kroeger, Casey Y. Myers, Katy Morgan – Book
This book, at the intersection of early childhood and reconceptualizing practice, looks at how practitioners, theorists, and teachers are supporting young children to care about the environment differently. The book provides an innovative exploration of the links between children, elders, and nature. With contributions from established scholars, practitioners, and newcomers this book reframes educating for social justice within an ecological landscape; one in which young children and their elders are mobilized to understand, reconceptualize and even undo negative environmental impact, whilst grappling with the ways in which the earthly forces are acting upon them.