This post sets out links to recent (Autumn 2018) evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items.  This supports the Strategic Research Network 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:

Ecological science fieldwork and secondary school biology in England: Does a more secure future lie in Geography
Tilling S – The Curriculum Journal
This paper presents evidence of a continuing decline in ecology fieldwork over the past 15 years, discusses some possible causes and reviews solutions to reverse the trend. In particular, it argues that teaching scientific ecology through geography fieldwork could overcome several of the fundamental obstacles encountered in biology education. Trends in biology and geography fieldwork are compared. These show that the risks to ecology in forging a strong relationship, and increased dependency, with geography teaching are likely to be outweighed by reciprocal benefits.

Natural Environments Near Schools: Potential Benefits for Socio‐Emotional and Behavioral Development in Early Childhood
JT Scott et al – American Journal of Community Psychology
This study found that students’ development of emotional and behavioral regulatory skills was the greatest when there were high levels of tree canopy either at home or school. Additionally, students developed greater independence and social skills when their schools were in neighborhoods with limited impervious surface (e.g., concrete); this trend was the most pronounced for students from neighborhoods low in impervious surface.

Greenness and school-wide test scores are not always positively associated – A replication of “linking performance in Massachusetts elementary schools with the ‘greenness’ of school surroundings using remote sensing.”
Browning et al – Landscape and Urban Planning
This research replicates a previous study finding that greenness around schools was positively associated with academic performance. This study found differing results, due perhaps, to differing levels of greenness and socio-economic status of students.

The Influences of Outdoor Learning Process (OLP) on Conceptual Understanding and Environmental Concern: Implementations on the Ecosystem Subject
M Mernisa – Journal of Physics: Conference Series
This research used a Pretest-Posttest Non-equivalent Control Group design. One subject group was given a specific treatment (experimental) and the other one as the control group. The results showed, there is a significant influence between learning by using the OLP and the conceptual understanding. But there is no significant influence between learning with OLP and the environmental concern

Book of Extended Abstracts for the European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning Conference
These works represent the diverse nature of the conference that was stimulated by study visits. These abstracts demonstrate and explore some of the theoretical underpinnings of current theory and practice of experiential outdoor education throughout Europe, and beyond, and provide stimulation for new ideas, methods and theories.

Exploring Gender Differences within Forest Schools as a Physical Activity Intervention
E Trapasso et al – Children,
Children had significantly greater levels of light Physical Activity on a Forest School day and a PE school day compared to a regular school day and children reported feeling both happier and relaxed as a consequence of the intervention. From the qualitative data, boys and girls reported different likes of the FS interventions, whereas their dislikes of FS were comparable.

Learning while playing: children’s forest school experiences in the United Kingdom
J Coates, H Pimlott-Wilson – British Educational Research Journal
This study explored how children interpret their experiences when faced with a fusion of learning environments and critically evaluates the benefits children realise, when asked to reflect on their learning engagement in both classroom and outdoor settings. A rigorous phenomenological thematic analysis revealed three inter-related themes: A break from routine; Learning through play; and Collaboration and teamwork. The findings suggest that the blending of Forest School with mainstream settings contributes to children’s social, cognitive, emotional and physical skill development through experiential learning using play.

Public Health and Well-being Innovation in the Natural environment Sector: Lessons from the UK and Finland
J Tredinnick-Rowe, T Taylor, A Tuohino – European Journal of Environment and Public Health
Thirty-one ethnographic interviews were conducted with health and well-being sector businesses to examine the dynamics of innovation in the UK (Cornwall) and across Finland. This study found that the construction of natural environment based services for health and well-being follows a five-step model: (1) Services are specifically designed for individuals’ needs; (2) These services are based around routine behaviours of that individual and their personal and social habits; (3) This creates a process of normalisation that relates to former states of health prior to being ill; (4) These routines generally function at a habitual level if they are to be of use on a daily basis (we are not conscious of all of our actions all the time); and (5) nature is used to embed these new routines because it allows access to the latent forms of thought, not ones that require direct conscious learning

Greenspace Ecotherapy Interventions: The Stress-Reduction Potential of Green Micro-Breaks Integrating Nature Connection and Mind-Body Skills
D Ibes, I Hirama, C Schuyler – Ecopsychology
This study investigates the psychological impact of two short (1 and 5 min) green space interventions that integrate two proven approaches to stress reduction—mind-body skills and nature exposure. Statistical and qualitative analysis of participants reveals that these simple, low-cost interventions were instantly popular and well received and had a positive psychological effect on 96% of participants who reported psychological impact, most commonly, relief from stress (82%).

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