A classroom without walls – The power of outdoor learning

An Australian paper presented to the 3rd Education Nation Conference in Malaysia by Steve McMurtrie on behalf of Outdoors Victoria.

A snipet – A classroom without walls – The power of outdoor learning

Human health and wellbeing is enhanced through meaningful connections between people and places in 4 areas:

  •  Socio-ecological health and wellbeing
  •  Individual health and wellbeing
  •  Social Context: Relationships
  •  Community and natural environment

Research suggests that outdoor activities enable people to engage physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually with other people within outdoor environments

Full  PDF HERE – A classroom without walls – The power of outdoor learning

Back to School Back Outside

American report on how outdoor education and outdoor school time create high performance students by the National Wildlife Federation.



Back to School Back Outside – Snipet

In this report, we summarize the available studies on the role of outdoor learning programs and outdoor play time in furthering children’s overall education: improving their lifelong learning skills, prospects for career success and school test scores. American parents, educators and school administrators are faced with an unprecedented new educational challenge that is so broad, subtle and pervasive, that it is nearly invisible. They must wake up to the cold reality that American children are now spending an average of seven hours and 38 minutes per day (53 hours per week) indoors, using electronic media such as television and video games. Regular outdoor time, especially time in natural surroundings, has become just minutes per day and is verging on becoming a thing of the past. This “indoor childhood” trend is an immense and unnecessary drain on our children’s long term physical, emotional and educational development.

Full  PDF HERE – Back to School Back Outside

High Quality Outdoor Learning

British study into the benefits of High Quality Outdoor Learning by the Outdoor Education Advisors’ Panel and published by the English Outdoor Council.

Aims of the thesis – Space and Place – Perspectives on Outdoor Teaching and Learningoutdoor teachings glenhaven park camps

The guide is intended to:

• clearly outline the benefits and outcomes of high quality outdoor learning

• recognise and evaluate high quality outdoor learning

• focus on the delivery of high quality outdoor learning – what it looks like and how to achieve it
About this guide Britain has a long tradition of engaging young people in outdoor learning, and the positive impact that this can have on a young person’s development is widely acknowledged.
The guide is intended for:

• those directly involved in outdoor learning with young people, including teachers and support staff, youth workers, youth leaders, instructors, coaches and parents

• policy and decision-makers who wish to understand more about the benefits and impacts of outdoor learning for young people

• those involved in managing and monitoring outdoor learning, including head teachers, youth service managers, heads and managers of outdoor education centres, leaders of voluntary youth organisations and outdoor activity/environmental clubs, and outdoor education/learning advisers.

Full  PDF HERE – High Quality Outdoor Learning

Evaluation of an Experiential Learning and Outdoor Education Program

An evaluation of an Experiential Learning and Outdoor Education program on the life effectiveness skills of middle school boys

A study on the program from a Year 9 group of boys in a school in Melbourne by Beth McLeod, Graduate Diploma of Education in Outdoor Education and Physical Education & Sandy Allen Craig, Lecturer in Outdoor Education Australian Catholic University.

A snipet,

Social, Emotional and Psychological Development associated with Adolescence At year nine level, students are generally between the ages
of thirteen and fifteen years, which is considered part of their adolescent years. The radical physical developments during adolescence are also known to have a significant impact on an adolescent socially, emotionally and psychologically (Coleman & Hendry, 1999; Edelman & Mandle, 1998; Henderson, Champlin & Evashwick, 1998). This is marked by uncertainties over social role and identity, sexuality, work and personal relationships (Fosh, Phoenix & Pattman, 2002). The physical, social, emotional, psychological and role changes lead to the fluctuation of an adolescent’s body image and thus has implications on sense of self. An Adolescent often tries to develop his identity by being independent and individual, yet still requires a sense of uniformity in how he appears to others around him. It is not surprising considering all the transitional effects allied with this period of adolescence that it has been associated as a time of self-consciousness, a negative modification of self-concept and has been referred to as a “crisis in contemporary forms of masculinity” (Fosh et al., 2002, pg. 1). Studies by Marsh, Parker and Barnes (1985) and Richards (1999) have associated this stage with the lowest point of self-concept and an overwhelmingly obvious lowering in physical self-satisfaction.


Full  PDF HERE – Evaluation of an Experiential Learning and Outdoor Education Program

Space and Place – Perspectives on Outdoor Teaching and Learning

Thesis on the exploration of the consequences of regular school-based outdoor teaching and learning in a Junior High School context. Written by Emilia Fägerstan, Dept. of Behavioural Sciences and Learning; Linköping University, Sweden in conjunction with Macquarie University, Australia.

Aims of the thesis – Space and Place – Perspectives on Outdoor Teaching and Learningoutdoor teachings glenhaven park camps

There is a need for more school-based research on outdoor teaching and learning, particularly in high school, and the overall aim of the
thesis is to explore the impact of regular school-based outdoor teaching and learning in a junior high school context. A second aim is to explore how Australian environmental education centre officers, who meet large number of students each year, and high school teachers perceive urban children’s experience of nature as well as how they perceive the potential advantages from a nature experience. The research questions addressed in this thesis are as follows:

1) What are the observations and perceptions of teachers regarding how children experience nature? (paper I)

– 3 –
2) What is the potential of nature experiences according to teachers? (paper I)

3) What are the influences on students’ performance in biology, and what are the attitudes toward outdoor teaching and learning after being partially taught outdoors? (paper II)

4) Based on one year of experience, what are teachers’ perceptions of the educational potential of outdoor teaching and learning? (paper III)

5) How did teachers’ perception of outdoor teaching and learning differ after one year of experience compared with their initial perceptions? (paper III)

6) What are the influences on students’ performance in arithmetic and self-regulation skills after being partially taught outdoors? (paper IV)

Full  PDF HERE – Space and Place – Perspectives on Outdoor Teaching and Learning


Australian Outdoor Survey Report

Study on the scope and diversity of outdoor youth programs in Australia made via a survey of providers of outdoor programs. Study conducted by the Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance whose representatives include; Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, Australian Camps Association, Outdoor Educator’s Association of South Australia and many more.

Australian Outdoor Glenhaven Park

A segment from the Australian Outdoor Survey Report

A number of key themes emerged from the data gathered.  First, outdoor youth programs in Australia  represent an incredible diversity of practice, varying on characteristics such as duration, participant group  size, physical setting, activities used, staff‐to‐participant ratios, and program goals. However, despite this  diversity, there are also important points of commonality across many programs. These aspects in common  include the explicit use of personal challenge, activity and experience as a basis of learning, exposure to  nature, guidance of participant experiences, and consideration of social context in the design of outdoor  programs. Second, it was notable that practitioners in this field clearly identified personal and social  development of participants as the most salient goals of their outdoor programs, over and above other  possible  goals  such  as  curriculum  education,  environmental  learning  or  technical  skill  enhancement.  Further,  practitioners  proposed  that  the  majority  of  young  people  actually  derived  these  intended  development benefits through their participation and involvement. Third, practitioners overwhelmingly  based their evaluation of the outcomes of their work on informal forms of evidence, such as personal  observation or anecdotal participant reports. Although such evidence is essential for the development of  practitioner expertise, it is noteworthy that rigorous research is typically not identified as part of the basis  for evaluating outcomes, clearly limiting the development of evidence based practice in this area.    Glenhaven Park Australian Outdoor


This project seeks to ensure that the nation’s outdoor resources are fully utilised for the benefit of young  people. No other opportunities are as readily available to youth as outdoor and camping programs that also  address  three  of  the  most  pressing  priorities  for  young  people  in  our  community:  mental  well-being,  physical  activity  and  environmental  awareness.  Outdoor  programs  represent  a  largely  untapped  opportunity to promote emotional health and wellbeing. Rigorous development of the research base in this  area will be critical to transforming the field to one of evidence based practice, so that the potential of  these programs to maximise youth development and prevent negative outcomes for young people and the  communities in which they live can be realised.

Check out the full PDF here

Outdoor Activity Benefits

Outdoor Activity Benefits

Australian research into the benefits of outdoor adventure activities conducted by the Centre of Tourism Research at the University of Canberra.


Here is the Executive Summary from this informative free ebook available here

Research into the benefits of outdoor adventure activities highlights the valuable contribution they make to personal health and wellbeing. As the empirical and anecdotal evidence in the outdoor adventure field begins to unfold, the proliferation of evidenced-based research grows exponentially. The unique opportunities within the natural and social environments offered by outdoor adventure activities provide varying contexts in which these positive connections are made. These connections are referred to in the outdoor adventure literature as being with the self, others and the environment. Outdoor adventure activities provide opportunities for the connection of individuals with nature (the natural environment), direct connection with other people (interpersonal), and importantly, with themselves (personal). Specifically, the benefits of these connections are shown to lie in the strength and placement of these connections.

This report draws on research from education, recreation, leisure, tourism, sport, adult learning, health, and therapy to highlight the evidence of the positive contributions of outdoor adventure activities. The authors acknowledge the combined effects of difficulties encountered when measuring experiences and benefits with the paucity of Australian and New Zealand research in this area. This has meant a broad sweep of the available research to include both qualitative and quantitative studies, theoretical papers, and reports from complimentary disciplines and other countries. The evidence-based research reported on here used a variety of methods including meta-analyses, questionnaires (mostly utilising psychometric questioning e.g. Life Effectiveness Questionnaire – LEQ), and in-depth interviews and were either cross-sectional or longitudinal in design.

The main benefits of outdoor adventure activities, as shown in the evidence-based literature, include interpersonal and intrapersonal skills developed through engaging in outdoor adventure activities in meaningful ways. Benefits for the natural environment were less directly evidenced, however indirectly were given as developing more nurturing individuals and communities, and the development of environmental awareness and stewardship. The long-term nature of changed attitudes to the environment and sustainability are yet to be examined through longitudinal research.

Benefits were evident in the psycho-social, psychological, physical and spiritual domains, particularly with regards to developing self efficacy, intellectual flexibility, personal skills, and relationship building. The benefits that result from participating in outdoor adventure activities are facilitated through the provision of appropriate facilities and natural resources and well as the design of programs that are intentionally working towards particular objectives.

While there was a wide range of available research, what this review highlights is the need to establish a strategic interdisciplinary research agenda within which researchers, program and activity providers, land managers, policy advisors and other key stakeholders may conduct research and evaluation, and then disseminate the knowledge for others to build upon.

You can get the full ebook HERE



by the Foundation for Outdoor Adventure

Great article to explain of the importance of having an adventure. Written in the UK but this article has some great value for our young people in Australia.

The need for adventure
In an attempt to understand themselves, others and the changing context of their lives, all young people are engaged, consciously or unconsOUTDOOR ADVENTUREciously, in an exploration of what it is to be human. This is in essence a spiritual journey, in which young people come to terms with the mysteries of human existence; establish standards and values by which they live and work; identify worthwhile goals and develop the skills and understanding through which these may be achieved.

Our society is changing rapidly, and this calls for new approaches to learning, working and living together. The importance of assisting young people to prepare effectively and successfully for their adult lives is obvious; the cost of failure in this task will be borne in the future both by the individuals themselves and by society. The challenge for all concerned with young people is to empower them to cope effectively with the choices, problems and opportunities which face them, and at the same time to help them develop a real sense of community and citizenship.

The Foundation for Outdoor Adventure identifies five areas of development for young people. In each of these, individual learning and development needs can be addressed through the empowering experience of outdoor adventure.