Welcome to the Outdoor and Experiential Learning Research Network site! Based at the Plymouth Institute of Education, we are part of a growing movement that aims to get people of all ages outside in ways that will benefit their learning, health and wellbeing. We welcome all with a practical, research or recreational interest in the outdoors, and hope you enjoy taking part in our activities.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to become a member.
Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools
"Pupils also enjoy an increasing range of opportunities for outdoor education which broadens their horizons and enhances their progress in classroom work. These activities contribute to pupils’ improving spiritual, moral, social and cultural development."
- Natural Connections school Ofsted report June 2014
Outdoor learning isn’t a subject or topic; it’s a powerful way of teaching. The Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools booklet provides an introduction to the value and impact of well-planned regular outdoor learning.
Have you ever wondered whether woodland walks are good for you?
The BIG Lottery funded project Good from Woods looked at wellbeing derived from woodland activities and the full report is available.
You may also be interested in these articles, arising from that project:
Waite, S., Goodenough, A., Norris, V. & Puttick, N. (2016) From little acorns..: environmental action as a source of ecological wellbeing, International Journal of Pastoral Care in Education. 34 (1), 43-61. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02643944.2015.1119879
Aronsson, J., Waite, S. & Tighe Clarke, M. (2015) Measuring the impact of outdoor learning on the physical activity of school age children: The use of accelerometry. Education and Health, 33(3). http://sheu.org.uk/x/eh333ja.pdf
Goodenough, A., Waite, S. & Bartlett, J. (2015) Families in the forest: guilt trips, bonding moments and potential springboards, Annals of Leisure Research, 18 (3), 377-396. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/11745398.2015.1059769
Wright, N., Goodenough, A. & Waite, S. (2015) Gaining insights into young peoples’ playful wellbeing in woodland through art based action research, Journal of Playwork Practice, 2(1), 23-43. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/jpp/2015/00000002/00000001/art00003
Naturally Healthy Devon Schools
Like the Natural Connections project, Naturally Healthy Devon Schools aimed to stimulate the demand from schools and teachers for outdoor learning, support them to build outdoor learning into everyday practice and to stimulate the supply of services to enable teachers and schools to do this. It had an additional focus on how learning outside the classroom supports schools to promote healthy outcomes, and so aimed to increase our understanding of both the learning and health benefits of outdoor learning. It was funded by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Devon via a legacy they had received with the aim of strengthening the link between the children of Devon and their local environment. Additional funding was also received from Natural England, Devon County Council, Devon Local Nature Partnership and Plymouth University. It reached over 7,000 Devon schoolchildren.
Creating Happy and Healthy Schools Toolkit
A new toolkit to help schools to
monitor children's physical activity and wellbeing
when learning outside and inside the classroom, based on research undertaken
as part of the Naturally Healthy Devon Schools project, is now available. You
can obtain hard copies by emailing email@example.com.
Supporting moor health and well-being
The top four outcomes from activities in a National Park were enjoyment, a sense of belonging, learning and relaxation according to participant comments on the Naturally Healthy (Dartmoor) and Moor to Enjoy (Exmoor) projects. A recent evaluation by Sarah Howes, Andy Edwards-Jones and Sue Waite of these two initiatives to promote health and well-being through activities in our local National Parks has shown that working with existing community groups can be a quicker method of engaging people to take advantage of the benefits of being in the natural environment than green prescriptions. A toolkit that sets out steps learned from the evaluation for successful natural health and well-being projects is also available: Moor Health and Wellbeing Toolkit.
Find out more in our report.