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New Voices in the Woods: A Study of Children’s Experience of the Forest as an Outdoor Educational Space.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

There is a growing body of literature that recognizes the importance of outdoor learning spaces in educational practice with children. However, previous studies of the outdoor learning spaces have omitted to address the young children’s perspectives on the outdoor environments that they experience as a part of the Forest School’s educational approach. Research on the subject has been mostly restricted to an adult perspective. Furthermore, the previously published studies are limited to Scandinavian countries and available in Scandinavian languages and, therefore, not easily accessible to an international audience. The aim of the present dissertation project is to explore young children’s (aged 3-6 years) voices on their experience, sense-making, and understanding of the educational space of a forest. A qualitative research paradigm was employed to explore the components that characterize children’s perception of the outdoor educational space. Ethnographic research methods (participants observation, informal conversation and material collection) were used to investigate children’s outdoor activities performed in two Italian preschools: a kindergarten outdoor oriented school and a Forest School. The collected materials (fieldnotes, interviews, and children’s drawings) were processed using a six-steps Thematic Analysis with the aim to gain a complex account of the data. The results indicate that the way children use, interact and, confer a meaning to their experience in the woods are represented by the following themes: Type of Place Attended, Nature Engagement, Relationship with the Woods, Responsibility and Risk, Imagination, Emotional Responses, Affordances, Relationships with Others, Discovery and Experimentation, Nature Education, Concerns for Nature, and Learnings Connected to the Curriculum.These results have provided a deeper insight on the children’s experience of the outdoor learning space of a forest. Moreover, the empirical findings in this study contributed to provide a new understanding of how children bond with the natural world and how they behave and experience it. Taking into account the exploratory nature of the present thesis, future research should further address the children’s perspectives on the outdoor education space, the forest. Furthermore, it would be interesting to investigate if the cognitive, emotional, and social resources and environmental attitudes developed by children in the forest as outdoor educational space are strictly intertwined with this particular environment or if they can be realized in more a conventional school setting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 70
Keywords [en]
Outdoor Educational Space, Forest, Positive Outcomes, Children’s perspective, Forest School, Kindergarten Outdoor Oriented, Ethnographic Research Methods, Six-steps Thematic Analysis, Connection, Bonding and Action Towards Nature.
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-149007ISRN: LIU-IBL/MOE-A-2018/001—SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-149007DiVA, id: diva2:1223323
External cooperation
"Scuola nel Bosco di Riva del Garda" and "Asilo La Grande Quercia"
Subject / course
Master in Outdoor Environmental Education and Outdoor Life
Presentation
2018-06-07, KG 45, Key Building (Liu Campus Valla), Linköping, 14:30 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-27 Created: 2018-06-25 Last updated: 2018-06-27Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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