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Bridges and barriers to offering outdoor education to grade 4-7 students in schools Sanderson, Arthur Owen

Abstract

This study investigated the bridges (enabling factors) and the barriers (hindering factors) of offering school-based Outdoor Education programmes. A questionnaire was used to survey 120 grade 4-7 classroom teachers. Teachers were required to record their perceptions pertaining to the bridges and barriers of Outdoor Education programmes on an 11-point scale. Open-ended responses also provided insights about the barriers and bridges, as well as how Outdoor Education programmes could be supported in school settings. Data suggested Outdoor Education is indeed offered in many schools but often only to a limited degree. Interestingly, the identified barriers tended to be of an organisational nature, whereas the bridges tended to be more closely aligned to pedagogical interests. Time, costs and legal liability were perceived by teachers as the strongest barriers to offering Outdoor Education. The strongest bridges were related to student learning, other educational stakeholders and the availability of outdoor areas. These research findings provide guidance for policy, professional development and other means of supporting elementary teachers' efforts to offer Outdoor Education. Methodological guidance is also offered for further research along similar lines.

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