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Learning biology and mathematics outdoors: effects and attitudes in a Swedish high school context
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences. Macquarie University , Australia.
Teacher, Växjö, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, ISSN 1472-9679, E-ISSN 1754-0402, Vol. 13, no 1, 56-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This research suggests that learning biology in an outdoor environment has a positive cognitive and affective impact on 13–15-year-old, Swedish high school pupils. Eighty-five pupils in four classes participated in a quasi-experimental design. Half the pupils, taking a biology course in ecology or diversity of life, had several lessons outdoors and the other half were taught indoors. All of the classes, but one, also had mathematics lessons outdoors once a week. Twenty-one pupils were interviewed five months after the course and all were positive towards the new learning environment they had experienced outdoors in biology and/or mathematics. They also valued the higher degree of interaction among the pupils. Other findings from the interviews were that the pupils from the outdoor classes showed a higher degree of long-term knowledge retention. They remembered both activities and contents better than the pupils in the indoor classes. An essay-type question assessing their biological understanding qualitatively according to the Structure of Observed Learning Outcome taxonomy revealed no differences between the groups. The results are discussed in the light of neurocognitive models of long-term memory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 13, no 1, 56-75 p.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-78461DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2011.647432OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-78461DiVA: diva2:532792
Available from: 2012-06-12 Created: 2012-06-12 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Space and Place: Perspectives on outdoor teaching and learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Space and Place: Perspectives on outdoor teaching and learning
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Plats och Rum : Perspektiv på undervisning och lärande utomhus
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to explore teachers’ and students’ experience and perception of outdoor teaching and learning. Further, it aims to explore influences of outdoor teaching on academic performance in biology and mathematics. The contexts for the thesis are a Swedish high school and Australian environmental education centres. The empirical material comprises student and teacher interviews, and questionnaires and tests answered by students. Theoretical frames of reference are theory of place and three dimensions of learning: content, social and emotional dimensions of learning. The results reveal that the extended physical space had the potential to improve social relations and increase participation, collaboration and on-task communication. However, teachers witnessed a period of up to three months before the students adjusted to outdoor teaching. During that time disciplinary issues were a concern. Teaches’ perceptions were that experience of specific places such as local natural environment was fundamental to forming a sense of belonging and environmental concern. However, teachers described children and students as unfamiliar with local natural environments. Teacher’s perceptions were that media provides knowledge about nature rather than direct experience and children and students were often uncomfortable or afraid in nature. Mathematics followed by language education were the subjects most regularly taught outdoors. Two studies compared classroom education with partly outdoor education in biology and mathematics. Results reveal that students’ performance was equally good, or more developed as a consequence of outdoor teaching. An overarching conclusion is that the possibility to appeal to cognitive, social and emotional dimensions of learning all at the same time has the potential to concretize and broaden the often theoretical approach of high school education, and to contribute to long term episodic memories and a desire to learn.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling syftar till att utforska lärares och elevers erfarenheter av, och uppfattningar om undervisning och lärande utomhus. Vidare syftar den till att undersöka vilken inverkan undervisning utomhus har på elevers resultat i biologi och matematik. Studierna är utförda i en svensk högstadieskola samt vid australiska miljöutbildningscentra. Det empiriska materialet består av elev- och lärarintervjuer samt enkäter och tester besvarade av elever. Det teoretiska ramverket utgår från platsteori samt ett lärandeperspektiv inkluderande tre dimensioner: innehållsliga, sociala och emotionella dimensioner av lärande. Resultaten visar att utemiljöns utvidgade fysiska rum har potential att förändra sociala relationer positivt och leda till ökat deltagande, samarbete, och kommunikation i ämnet  Lärares erfarenhet var dock att det tog upp till tre månader innan eleverna var helt införstådda med utomhusundervisningens innebörd. Under den tiden var oordning i klassen ett hinder. Erfarenhet av specifika platser såsom lokal natur sågs av lärarna som väsentligt för elevernas platstillhörighet och miljöengagemang. Lärare vittnade dock om många elevers främlingskap inför lokala naturmiljöer. Kunskaper om naturen härstammade snarare från media än från egna erfarenheter och eleverna var ofta obekväma eller rädda i naturen. Matematik följt av språk var de ämnen som med störst regelbundenhet undervisades utomhus. I två delstudier jämfördes klassrumsundervisning med undervisning delvis utomhus i biologi och matematik. Resultaten visar på likvärdiga, eller mer utvecklade kunskaper som en följd av utomhusundervisning. En övergripande slutsats är att utomhusundervisningens möjligheter att samtidigt appellera till kognitiva, sociala och emotionella dimensioner av lärande kan konkretisera och vidga högstadieundervisningens teoretiskt inriktade innehåll samt bidra till långlivade episodiska minnen och en lust till lärande.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. 100 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 167
Keyword
Outdoor teaching and learning, nature, school grounds, theory of place, Undervisning och lärande utomhus, natur, skolgård, platsteori
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-81318 (URN)978-91-7519-813-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-10-26, 101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-09-11 Created: 2012-09-11 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved

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Fägerstam, Emilia

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