Here’s a link to Natural England’s latest round up of recent and relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale initiatives, resources and news items.  This supports the Strategic Research Groups for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.

There’s a lot in here, and we noted these:

How the use of a school garden learning environment with at-risk high school environmental science students impacts their connection to nature
S Stevens – Thesis 2016
The purpose of this research was to see if the use of a school garden to teach Environmental Science students about ecology could increase their connection to nature, and to reduce their fears of undesirable organisms. Quantitative results showed a statistically significant change in empathy for organisms only. All other categories showed no statistical significant change. Qualitative data revealed more insight, by showing that several students associate nature experiences with enjoyment and gaining an understanding of the purpose to certain organisms reduced some student’s fears.

Connecting to place
K Wilkinson – Every Child, 2016
Educators understand that gardens and outdoor play spaces are essential to quality environments for young children. Outdoor play provides a wealth of opportunities for children’s learning and development and play in nature is also an avenue for fostering sustainability. In this article shares how families have come to understand this through a simple practice change at a centre that connected children and families with place

School-Based Experiential Outdoor Education: A Neglected Necessity
JK James, T Williams – Journal of Experiential Education, 2017
In this research study, we hear the voices of middle school students, preservice teachers, and practicing middle school teachers in support of school-based experiential outdoor education.. This research addresses the question, “Is experiential outdoor education for middle school–aged students a valuable use of school time?” The answer is a resounding “YES!” School-based experiential outdoor education, although often neglected as a part of the curriculum in our current era of high-stakes test-based accountability, is definitely a necessity

Challenges in conducting natural experiments in parks—lessons from the REVAMP study
J Veitch et al – International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2017
Parks provide opportunities for physical activity; however, there is little robust evidence on the impact of park refurbishment. Such an opportunity was provided by the modification of a large park in Victoria, Australia in 2013 when the Recording and EValuating Activity in a Modified Park (REVAMP) study was established. Based on insights from the REVAMP study, this paper discusses challenges involved in conducting natural experiments in park settings, focussing on issues that may help design more effective future evaluations of the impact of park refurbishment..

and more …

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