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"The owl hugs me in the forest": Children's Experiences and Educators' Perceptions of Learning in a Swedish Mini-Forest Garden
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In recent years, there has been converging evidence on the relation between nature experiences and learning. Although outdoor experiences are not just seen as leisurely activities anymore, barriers, such as lack of resources or travel time can hinder the propagation of more outdoor educational programs. This study explores a relatively new outdoor educational setting that can help overcome these difficulties by decreasing the amount of resources, input and energy necessary to set up such measures: the educational forest garden. With lower maintenance in creating an environment that resembles an authentic ecosystem, the question remains if forest gardening can foster similar learning outcomes than those reported in other educational settings. A qualitative study in a Swedish mini-forest garden was employed to explore what types of learning are possible in this new type of setting. Interviews with two educators and eight children were conducted to find out what perceptions and experiences they communicate after spending time in the mini-forest garden. The educator’s ideas were compared with children’s accounts and observational notes on their behavior to see if there was a difference in perception and experience. Examples for learning were found in three different dimensions: cognitive, emotional and social. The explored categories were ecological literacy, language learning, attention; being comfortable outdoors, respect and care, awareness of surroundings, co-creation, teacher-student interaction, gender differences and free play and imagination. The findings indicate an overlap between teacher’s and children’s experiences and perceptions in almost all categories and similar beneficial learning outcomes with forest gardening to other outdoor educational endeavors. Along with the potential for self-development, forest gardening may be a new way to successfully teach in the outdoors with less input or resources. Although a small scale study that should not be generalized, the study gives insight to educators’ and children’s voices in a new outdoor educational setting and can help overcome the lack of children’s voices in research in general. At the same time, it adds to the limited amount of research on forest gardening and potentially helps to increase the popularity of forest gardening as a new outdoor educational method.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 74
Keywords [en]
Forest Gardening, Outdoor Education, Environmental Education, Outdoor Space, Learning, Three Dimensions, Nature Connection, Semi-Structured Interviews, Early Years, Play, Children’s Experiences, Teachers’ Perceptions
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158203ISRN: LIU-IBL/MOS-A-2019/009—SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-158203DiVA, id: diva2:1331140
Subject / course
Master in Outdoor Environmental Education and Outdoor Life
Presentation
2019-06-04, IG 12, Campus Valla, Linkoping, 08:30 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-27 Created: 2019-06-26 Last updated: 2019-06-27Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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