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Environmental Education

Importance of Environmental Education

The Benefits of Environmental Education for Students, Educators, and the World

 

Need a reason to bring environmental education into your teaching practice? Check out this incredible list of well researched benefits resulting from EE and outdoor education!

 

The benefits of EE can be broken down into 8 categories:

  1. Connecting to Every Student

  2. Cognitive Benefits & Academics Outcomes

  3. Physical Health Benefits

  4. Mental Health Benefits

  5. Personal Development and Learning Skills

  6. Attitudes, Engagement, & Fun

    • EE and outdoor learning experiences typically affect the attitudes of students in numerous positive ways. For example, students who engage in outdoor EE usually demonstrate positive dispositions toward new learning experiences and increased levels of hope (Bell & Dyment, 2008). There are often reports of improved student enjoyment, excitement, and attitudes toward educational experiences (Becker, et al., 2017; Dillon, et al., 2005; Holloway & Mahan, 2012), which leads to higher levels of engagement in and motivation for learning, including increased emotional engagement. Students view outdoor lessons as novel and new, engage in more creative thinking and play, and perceive outdoor learning as more fun (Dillon, et al., 2005; Louv, 2008)! Additionally, educators report increased by-in from apathetic students toward school and learning when outdoor activities are integrated into lessons (James & Williams, 2017).

  7. Classroom Dynamics & Management

    • EE has an incredible impact not just on individual students, but on classroom dynamics as a whole. This includes improved classroom behavior and attendance, enhanced cooperation and conflict resolution, reduced disruptions and disturbances, improved interpersonal relationships, increased respect for others, better cooperation, teamwork, and social relationships, and decreased bullying rates (Becker, et al. 2017; Kilburn, 2012; Louv, 2008).

    • Additionally, outdoor educational experiences creates a new dynamic between students and educators, as they are more informal it is easier to create positive relationships outside of pupil/teacher dynamic, leading to improved student/teacher relationships (Dillon, et al., 2005).

  8. Relationships with the Natural World

    • Time spent outdoors for EE has a profound impact on student relationships with the environment. Specifically, and most importantly, this includes improved relationships with the environment. Students develop stronger, deeper, connections to nature as a result of their time spent learning in, and about, nature. They demonstrate increased environmental stewardship and greater ecological behaviours, resulting from increases in environmental knowledge and connectedness to nature (Bell & Dyment, 2008; Kilburn, 2012). They also develop improved relationships with the nonhuman other including nurturing attitudes toward plants and animals and empathy for nonhumans (Bell & Dyment, 2008; Dillon, et al., 2005). Students achieve an improved understanding of ecological issues (Becker, et al., 2017), as well as the development of an intrinsic love of learning in the outdoors (James & Williams, 2017). They develop active responsibility for the environment, as well as attitudes that create a foundation for future environmental sustainability and stewardship practices. EE encourages the development of pro-environmental values and beliefs and teaches young people to promote positive environmental action and influence change in society. Ultimately, EE promotes stewardship in the next generation, and acts as one solution to the current environmental crisis. 

References

Anderson, C. L., Miller, B. M., Eitel, K. B., Veletsianos, G., Eitel, J. U. H., & Hougham, R. J. (2015). Exploring Techniques for Integrating Mobile Technology into

     Field-Based Environmental Education. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 19(6), 1-19.

Beames, S. (2012). Learning outside the classroom: theory and guidelines for practice. New York: Routledge.

Becker, C., Lauterbach, G., Spengler, S., Dettweiler, U., & Mess, F. (2017). Effects of Regular Classes in Outdoor Education Settings: A Systematic Review on

     Students’ Learning, Social and Health Dimensions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(5), 485.

 

Bell, A. C., & Dyment, J. E. (2008). Grounds for health: the intersection of green school grounds and health-promoting schools. Environmental Education

     Research, 14(1), 77-90.

Brussoni, M., Olsen, L. L., Pike, I., & Sleet, D. A. (2012). Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development. International Journal

     of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9(9), 3134-3148.

Dillon, J., Morris, M., O'Donnell, L., Reid, A., Rickinson, M., & Scott, W. (2005). Engaging and Learning with the Outdoors – The Final Report of the Outdoor

     Classroom in a Rural Context Action Research Project. National Foundation for Education Research, http://www.bath.ac.uk/cree/resources/OCR.pdf

Gilbertson, K., Bates, T., McLaughlin, T., & Ewert, A. (2006). Outdoor Education: Methods and Strategies. Champaign: Human Kinetics

Holloway, P., & Mahan, C. (2012). Enhance nature exploration with technology. Science Scope, 35(9), 23-28.

 

James, J. K., & Williams, T. (2017). School-Based Experiential Outdoor Education: A Neglected Necessity. Journal of Experiential Education, 40(1), 58-71.

Kilburn, B. (2012). Into Nature: A Guide to Teaching in Nearby Nature. Back to Nature Network. https://www.back2nature.ca/teachers-guide-into-nature-

     english/

McCurdy, L. E., Winterbottom, K. E., Mehta, S. S., & Roberts, J. R. (2010). Using Nature and Outdoor Activity to Improve Children's Health. Current Problems in

     Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 40(5), 102-117.

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

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