This is more detail from a recent round up by Natural England of relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items from the UK and abroad, with a focus on schools, education and learning. This supports the Strategic Research Network for People and Nature to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.
Nature wandering as a means of environmental education
K Győrössy, G Földes-Leskó – Journal of Applied Technical and Educational Sciences
The main objective of our research was to examine the effects of extracurricular hiking activities on the lifestyle of students. Furthermore, we were eager to investigate whether the habits and environmental attitudes of hiking students differ from those who did not take part in these school organized activities. A total of 64 students completed an internet-based survey from two Hungarian secondary schools where hikes are carried out throughout the year. We found that the habits and environmental attitudes of the participating students are more positive compared to those who are not engaged in these activities. Our results also support the idea that extracurricular hiking activities have a significant impact on the life of students.
We love them anyway: outdoor environmental education programs from the accompanying teachers’ perspective
J Cincera et al – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
In this study, interviews were conducted with elementary school teachers who had participated in one of five selected residential programs in the Czech Republic. All the teachers found the residential programs beneficial for their teaching. However, a majority of the teachers reported that the most significant outcome was the improvement in the students’ interpersonal competence and in the relationship between the teachers and their students. Interestingly, the effect of the residential programs on developing the students’ environmental understanding, attitudes, and values remained secondary or was questioned by the teachers. The aspect that the teachers appreciated most was the application of experiential learning methods providing emotional experiences for the students.
Meaning-making of student experiences during outdoor exploration time.
Berg et al – Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
Third graders visited a nearby greenway for unstructured outdoor learning each month during the school year. The following year, two of the teachers and 21 of the students participated in semi-structured group interviews about the previous year’s outdoor learning experiences. Both students and teachers noted ways in which the outdoor learning experiences were meaningful and enjoyable.
Nature literacy: rethinking how we teach about nature in secondary school science
M Grace, JB Griffiths, C Hughes – School Science Review
Our connection with nature is important for mental and physical well-being and this connection depends on how we understand, value and engage with the natural world. However, there is persistent evidence that young people remain disconnected from nature. In this article we discuss reasons why many secondary schools in England are having difficulty engaging their students with nature. We propose a rethinking of the way we teach about nature and biodiversity by promoting the notion of ‘nature literacy’, which can empower students to become more actively engaged with the natural world around them
A systematic review of forest schools literature in England
A Garden, G Downes – Education
This paper draws on the breadth of Forest School research literature spanning the past ten years in order to categorise theorisations across the papers. The paper highlights a set of overarching themes for Forest School research as well as providing a conceptual map representing three distinct contexts: early years, special education needs and disability, and formal education. In addition, a set of more abstract themes emerged from work associated with the Forest School space
The effects of contact with nature during outdoor environmental education on students’ wellbeing, connectedness to nature and pro-sociality.
Pirochio et al – Frontiers in Psychology
Two studies were conducted with students participating in a non-residential school-based outdoor environmental education program in Italy. Both compared the participating students with non-participating students on different environmental and well-being dimensions, using pre/post measures. Participating students made greater gains in well-being, connectedness to nature, and pro-sociality than the non-participating students. The gains were attributed to increased contact with nature.
Forty Years On: Just How Life Changing are School Expeditions?
P Allison, T Stott, C Palmer, MJ Ramirez – Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership
This study examined long-term outcomes (40 years later) of three (month-long) adventurous school expeditions to mainland Europe, by staff and pupils from a high school (11- to 16-year-olds) in Scotland in the 1970s. The interviews revealed a transference of learning qualities attributed to the expedition, indicating a long-term impact on participants’ personal and/or professional lives, with individuals still drawing upon their expedition experiences some 40 years later. Significant themes emerging were planning and preparation, confidence, and feelings of gratefulness, which led to participants wanting to undertake service that contributes back into society for young peoples’ benefit.
‘All of the Wild’: Cultural Formation in Wales Through Outdoor Play at Forest School
A Rekers, J Waters-Davies – Chapter in Outdoor Learning and Play
The discussion in this chapter is centred upon the following questions: During forest school sessions for pupils aged 4- and 5-years old, what conflicts may be surfaced as classroom teaching staff aim to meet Welsh Government expectations for both outdoor play and self-regulatory skills development? How do these conflicts shape the child’s experience of participating in outdoor play? We explore, from child and adult perspectives, the institutional values of the Foundation Phase, demands for reception year practice and subsequent expectations about children’s participation, highlighting the mediating messages being given about ‘how to be’ and what competencies are valued in the activity setting of mud play.
A comparison of indoor and outdoor biology education: What is the effect on student knowledge, attitudes, and retention?
K Arıkan – Journal of Biological Education
This study investigated the effects of outdoor education on a 10th grade biology curriculum in terms of the knowledge, attitudes, and retention of students compared to indoor teaching. The experiment and control-II groups took pre-, post-, and retention-tests, whereas the control-I group took pre- and retention-tests. Overall, the experiment group’s knowledge and attitudes were more positively affected than those of control-II. Outdoor Education had a more positive effect on retention and attitudes than did indoor teaching; it took less time and was more economical and temporarily more efficient.
Didactic sensitivity to children and place: a contribution to outdoor education cultures
JR Sanderud, KP Gurholt, VF Moe – Sport, Education and Society
This paper aims to contribute to the international debate on what constitutes good education by investigating an outdoor education culture framed within the context of Nordic early childhood education. Data were generated through ethnographic fieldwork in a public Norwegian nature kindergarten that emphasises children’s outdoor play as educationally important. The fieldwork drew on participant observation, including playing with the children and on-site conversations. Using the theoretical framework as a lens, the educational culture is conceptualised as didactic sensitivity, which entails the teachers’ delicate sensitivity and responsiveness towards children and place. The teachers act professionally by creating unique, thoughtful, responsive, and situated conditions for children’s autonomous growth in natural environments.
Exploring the value of a BioBlitz as a biodiversity education tool in a post-secondary environment
S Gass, A Mui, P Manning, H Cray, L Gibson – Environmental Education Research
The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of a campus BioBlitz as a place-based experiential learning experience for early undergraduate science students by having students work alongside naturalist experts to build skills in species observation and identification using the iNaturalist app. We surveyed students about their perceptions of the BioBlitz experience. Eighty two percent of students agreed that the BioBlitz provided valuable hands-on learning, they valued learning outside of a traditional classroom, and felt they learned new knowledge about species identification. Many students reported a heightened sense of environmental stewardship and a positive sense of place on campus.
Nurturing embodied experience: risk-tolerant parental attitudes towards nature-based children’s learning
T Puk – Education
In schooling, the concepts of risk and risk management have created the false impression that there’s something inherently dangerous about learning in natural surroundings. The purpose of the current study is to examine parental attitudes that involve encouraging their children, ranging from preschool to Grade 8, to experience natural surroundingsA constant comparative analysis identified three broad themes: (1) parents expressed a risk-tolerant approach to children playing and learning outdoors; (2) parental views on the benefits of outdoor playful learning; and (3) parental confidence in allowing children to play and learn in the outdoors. In the discussion section, it is then argued that rather than allowing the concept of risk management to misleadingly dominate this learning environment, this phenomena should be reconceptualised as ‘nurturing embodied experience’.
Children with autism in wild nature: Exploring Australian parent perceptions using Photovoice.
Galbraith & Lancaster – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Behaviour
Information shared by three Australian parents of children with autism indicated that time in nature supports child interests and imagination, is calming for the child, and helps the child cope with change. Barriers to time in nature as noted by the parents include time constraints related to appointments, the child’s sensory challenges, balancing the needs of siblings, and dealing with the exhaustion of daily life.