Investigating the Influence of Outdoor Learning Activities on Education For Sustainable Development

Even though today’s children play area preferences make the indoor places common and favourite places with digital technologies that create a domination on the experiences in outdoor environment (Louv, 2005), research studies revealed that children’s experiences in the natural environment have a positive impact on their attitudes, behaviours, and knowledge to acquire skills and habits to promote sustainable life (Lugg, 2007; Christie & Higgins, 2012; Lloyd, & Gray, 2014). That is to say, outdoor learning experiences are ideally placed to facilitate learning about and for sustainability as the outdoors is the place where the Earth systems on which we depend take place (Higgins, 2010). That is to say, outdoors provides direct experiences with nature for children to promote a relationship with the natural environment and to construct deep understanding of the natural environment that surrounds them (Lloyd, & Gray, 2014). However, transformative shift towards the issue of sustainability is required to apply goal-oriented transformative outdoor education rather just providing direct experiences with nature. That is why, in the 21st century, there has been increasing calls from within the outdoor and adventure education field to pay heed to sustainability issues. In other words, there is a special emphasize on incorporation of sustainability, socio-ecological, and place-responsive approaches into outdoor education thinking and practice (Hill, 2012). However, there is a strong belief in early childhood education about outdoor learning practices (Renick, 2009).According to this belief; teachers generally consider that outdoor environment requires less teacher care and participation when compared to indoor environment. To add, teachers believe that their primary role is to ensure safety and supervision when children in outdoor environment. (Bowman, 1990; Davies, 1997; Louv, 2006; Renick, 2009). At that point, the role of early childhood institutions comes into question. Herein, early childhood years are considered important, because this period fosters children’s basic skills, attitudes, behaviors and habits that have a long term impact (Elliot & Davis, 2009). In this regard, Eco-school project is one program for connecting children and nature. It is a primary enterprise that encourages children to engage in environment by enabling them to have opportunity for actively conserving the environment. This program begins at class, then goes to expand to the school and at the end enlarges to the change in the society. The Seven Steps Framework, the Eco-Schools Themes, and Assessment for the Green Flag are three essential components of Eco-school programme. In addition, active involvement of staff and student is seen as a must for the success of the programme (Eco-school, 2014). In this respect, even if Eco-school project has an underlying theory which aimed to connect children with nature, effectively implications of this philosophy into practice depends on how teachers planned and implemented learning process, particularly outdoor learning activities to promote sustainability. However, in related accessible literature, there are very few studies that give empirical attention to“how” issue in the integration of outdoor learning activities and sustainable goals in the context of Eco-school (Huckle, 2013). Under the guidance of information referred above, the current study aimed to explore the practices of eco-schools, specifically how they integrate education for sustainable development during outdoor learning activities in teaching young children.


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Citation Formats
F. Yalçın, “Investigating the Influence of Outdoor Learning Activities on Education For Sustainable Development,” presented at the ECER 2017 (22 - 25 Ağustos 2017), Copenhagen, Denmark, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: