This is 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.
Classroom-based citizen science: impacts on students’ science identity, nature connectedness, and curricular knowledge
KA Williams, TE Hall, K O’Connell – Environmental Education Research
This study evaluated the effects of a classroom-based citizen science project in which middle and high school students collected data about hummingbirds and their habitat use. We explored changes using quantitative pre- and post-test questionnaires. While curricular knowledge scores increased modestly, the project had no meaningful impacts on science identity or nature connectedness. Results suggest that, while citizen science has potential as an effective mode for educating students about the processes and content of science, one should not assume that it necessarily conveys additional benefits
‘Nature-enhanced learning’and geography education
K Brookfield – Journal of Geography in Higher Education
This review considers the evidence for nature’s beneficial effects, primarily in relation to learning, but also in terms of academic performance, cognitive function, health, wellbeing and personal development. It is concluded that it might be desirable for geography educators to explore opportunities to increase geography students’ contact with nature. Practical recommendations for how this could be achieved are suggested.
A Cross-Cultural Study on Outdoor Play: Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices
F Yalçın, FT Erden – Education and Science
The aim of this multi-case study was to explore Turkish and Finnish teachers’ beliefs and practices of outdoor play. The main differences between two cases concerned barriers to outdoor play and practices of outdoor play. Finnish teachers identified no such barriers, whereas Turkish teachers stated they encountered many barriers to applying outdoor play practices. Thus, Finnish teachers practiced outdoor play regularly in all seasons while Turkish teachers applied outdoor play only in good weather
Reconnecting Children with Nature: Foundation and Growth of the Nature Schools Movement in Iran
EA Burns, B Manouchehri – Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education
The Nature Schools movement in Iran commenced in 2014 and expanded steadily for half a decade, growing to almost 100 schools. The results of this study demonstrated that the establishment and growth pattern of the Iranian Nature Schools had different causes stimulating its commencement, how these schools released a new pedagogical practice for teachers, children and their families and how this movement offered an alternative curriculum in nature with school children outdoors. Thus, despite the eclipse of the Nature School movement, a longer timeframe indicates positive aspects
Engaging Children and Families in Active, Environmental Science Learning through Digital Media
CA Paulsen, E Carroll, O Paulsen, JR Andrews – International Journal of Early Childhood
An independent evaluation of an environmental science program that combined digital media with hands-on activities was conducted in 2020.. The evaluation found that families spent more time outdoors exploring nature and more time being physically active as a result. In addition, children’s environmental science content knowledge increased, and parents reported an increase in children’s nature-related habits of mind. Children’s interest and attitudes towards outdoor activities were moderate to high at pre-test and did not change over time.
‘All the things children can see’: understanding children’s noticing in bush kinders
C Speldewinde, A Kilderry, C Campbell – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
This paper presents data from interviews undertaken with teachers and parents of children who attend Australian bush kinders (kindergartens). The bush kinder approach is a recent adaptation of the European and UK forest school approaches Findings reveal that through their noticing, preschool children make a transition from being nature novices to nature experts. The data demonstrate the benefits preschool children can gain from learning and being ‘in’ and ‘with’ nature and the important role adults play recognising young children’s noticing in nature.
Babies and toddlers outdoors: a narrative review of the literature on provision for under twos in ECEC settings
N Kemp, J Josephidou – Early Years
This paper reports the findings of a narrative review of international research literature about babies’ and toddlers’ engagement with the outdoor environment whilst attending ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) settings. Based on the in-depth review of 21 papers, it identifies four dominant themes in the literature: the outdoors as a space to be physically active, the outdoors as a risky space, the challenge of creating an appropriate outdoor environment and the significance of the practitioner outdoors.
The outcomes of nature-based learning for primary school aged children: a systematic review of quantitative research
NC Miller, S Kumar, KL Pearce, KL Baldock – Environmental Education Research
While nature-based learning at school is considered an important strategy in addressing this, numerous knowledge gaps continue to remain. To address these, a systematic review was undertaken. There was a lack of universal definition of nature-based learning. This resulted in heterogeneity in how interventions were delivered, and outcomes measured. Overall, nature-based learning had varying levels of positive impacts across a range of outcomes. Despite these positive findings, the evidence base is constrained by some methodological issues.