Outdoor education in formal education

Main Article Content

Jan Činčera
Jakub Holec


The study summarizes the results of more than 70 studies analyzing the impact of outdoor formal education programs on students’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, beliefs, and behavior. We found a prevailing evidence of the benefits of outdoor programs, in both an absolute sense and relative to indoor lessons. The most significant barrier to extending outdoor formal education programs we identified was the concept of outdoor education as it is perceived by school teachers and administrators. In the study, we call for a “blended” educational approach merging indoor and outdoor educational settings to maximize the impact on students.  


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Činčera, J., & Holec, J. (2016). Outdoor education in formal education. Envigogika, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.14712/18023061.533
Reviewed Papers
Author Biographies

Jan Činčera

The author is an associate professor at Masaryk University of Brno (Faculty of social science, Department of environmental studies). He focuses on theory, methodics and evaluation of environmental education and education for sustainable development. He cooperates with environmental education centres as a programme evaluator and consultant.

Jakub Holec

National Insitute for Education


American Institutes of Research. (2005). Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California. Sacramento: California Department of Education.
Athman Ernst, J., & Monroe, M. (2004). The effects of environment‐based education on students’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking. Environmental Education Research, 10(4), 507–522. http://doi.org/10.1080/1350462042000291038
Bell, B. J., Gass, M. A., Nafziger, C. S., & Starbuck, J. D. (2014). The State of Knowledge of Outdoor Orientation Programs: Current Practices, Research, and Theory. Journal of Experiential Education, 37(1), 31–45. http://doi.org/10.1177/1053825913518891
Bentsen, P., Jensen, F. S., Mygind, E., & Randrup, T. B. (2010). The extent and dissemination of udeskole in Danish schools. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 9(3), 235-243.
Blair, D. (2009). The Child in the Garden: An Evaluative Review of the Benefits of School Gardening. The Journal of Environmental Education, 40(2), 15–38. http://doi.org/10.3200/JOEE.40.2.15-38
Bogner, F. X. (1998). The Influence of Short-Term Outdoor Ecology Education on Long-Term Variables of Environmental Perspective. The Journal of Environmental Education, 29(4), 17–29. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958969809599124
Bogner, F.X. & Wiseman, M. (2004). Outdoor Ecology Education and Pupil’s Environmental Perception in Preservation and Utilization. Science Education Journal, 15(1), 27-48.
Boric, E., & Skugor, A. (2014). Achieving Students’ Competencies Through Research-Based Outdoor Science Teaching. Croatian Journal of Education-Hrvatski Casopis Za Odgoj I Obrazovanje, 16(1), 149–164.
Burešová, K. (2007). Učíme se v zahradě. Kněžice: Chaloupky.
Cachelin, A., Paisley, K., & Blanchard, A. Using significant life experience research to inform program evaluation: A case study of The Nature Conservancy’s Wings & Water wetlands education program. Journal of Environmental Education, 40(2), 2 - 14.
Ceaser, D. (2012). Our School at Blair Grocery: A Case Study in Promoting Environmental Action Through Critical Environmental Education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 43(October 2013), 209–226. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2011.637094
Cincera, J., & Kovacikova, S. (2014). Applied Environmental Education & Communication Being an EcoTeam Member : Movers and Fighters, (December 2014), 37–41. http://doi.org/10.1080/1533015X.2015.972299
Cincera, J., & Maskova, V. (2011). GLOBE in the Czech Republic: a program evaluation. Environmental Education Research. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.557497
Cincera, J., Johnson, B., & Kovacikova, S. (2015). Evaluation of a Place-Based Environmental Education Program: From There to Here. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 14(3), 178–186. http://doi.org/10.1080/1533015X.2015.1067580
Činčera, J. (2011). Rozvoj výzkumných kompetencí žák na základní škole : zkušenosti z evaluace programu o Jizerských horách. Envigogika, 6(3) 1–13.
Činčera, J. (2011). Vliv pobytového programu o Jizerských horách na proenvironmentální postoje a hodnoty. Envigogika, 6(3), 1–16.
Činčera, J. (2012). Evaluace orientovaná na uživatele: zkušenosti s pobytovým programem Člověk a prostředí. Orbis Scholae, 6(3), 119-134.
Činčera, J. (2013). Vliv pobytového programu na atraktivitu Jizerských hor. Envigogika, 8(1), 1–10. http://doi.org/10.14712/18023061.8
Činčera, J. (2015). Centra environmentálního vzdělávání z pohledu učitelů. In Účinnost institucionální podpory center environmentálního vzdělávání. Praha: BEZK; SEVER; Agentura Koniklec. Zpráva z projektu.
Činčera, J. (2015). Využití modelu RWL pro evaluaci pobytového programu. Envigogika, 10(3), 1–14. http://doi.org/10.14712/18023061.499
Činčera, J., & Macháčková, P. (2009). Evaluace pobytového programu Podblanického ekocentra. Envigogika, 4(3), 1–17.
Činčera, J.; Jančaříková, K.; Matějček, T.; Šimonová, P.; Bartoš, J.; Lupač, M., & Broukalová, L. (in press). Environmentální výchova na českých školách. Brno: Masarykova univerzita; BEZK; Agentura Koniklec.
Dallat, C., Salmon, P. M., & Goode, N. (2015). All about the Teacher, the Rain and the Backpack: The Lack of a Systems Approach to Risk Assessment in School Outdoor Education Programs. Procedia Manufacturing, 3(Ahfe), 1157–1164. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.193
Dettmann-Easler, D., & Pease, J.L. (1999). Evaluating the effectiveness of residential envi- ronmental education programmes in fostering positive attitudes towards wildlife. Journal of Environmental Education 13(1), 33–9.
Dostál, J. (2015). Badatelsky orientovaná výuka: pojetí, podstata, význam a přínosy. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého.
Duffin, M., Powers, A., & Tremblay, G. (2004). Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC): Report on cross-program research and other program evaluation activities 2003--2004. PEER Associates.
Dyment, J. E. (2005). Green school grounds as sites for outdoor learning: Barriers and opportunities. International Research in Geographical & Environmental Education, 14(1), 28-45.
Eaton, D. (2000). Cognitive and affective learning in outdoor education [online]. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, 1998. Retrieved from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape10/PQDD_0005/NQ41587.pdf
Emmons, K. M. (1997). Perceptions of the Environment while Exploring the Outdoors: a case study in Belize. Environmental Education Research, 3(3), 327–344. http://doi.org/10.1080/1350462970030306
Erdoǧan, M. (2011). The effects of ecology-based summer nature education program on primary school students’ environmental knowledge, environmental affect and responsible environmental behavior. Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, 11(4), 2233–2237.
Erdogan, M. (2015). The effect of summer environmental education program (SEEP) on elementary school students’ environmental literacy. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 10(2), 165–181. http://doi.org/10.12973/ijese.2015.238a
Erdogan, M., Uşak, M., & Bahar, M. (2013). A Review of research on environmental education in non-traditional settings in Turkey, 2000 and 2011. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 8(1), 37–57.
Ernst, J. (2012). Influences on and Obstacles to K-12 Administrators’ Support for Environment-Based Education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 43(October 2013), 73–92. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2011.602759
Fančovičová, J., & Prokop, P. (2011). Plants have a chance: outdoor educational programmes alter students’ knowledge and attitudes towards plants. Environmental Education Research, 17(4), 537–551. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2010.545874
Ferreira, S. (2012). Moulding urban children towards environmental stewardship: the Table Mountain National Park experience. Environmental Education Research, 18(March 2013), 251–270. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.622838
Fisher-Maltese, C., & Zimmerman, T. D. (2015). A garden-based approach to teaching life science produces shifts in students’ attitudes toward the environment. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 10(1), 51–66. http://doi.org/10.12973/ijese.2015.230a
Fleszar ewa.fleszar0@neostrada.pl, E., & Gwardys-Szczęsna, S. (2009). the School Gardens in Preserving Biological Diversity for Education of Sustainable Development. Bulgarian Journal of Science & Education Policy, 3(2), 216–232.
Fox, K. R. (2010). Children Making a Difference: Developing Awareness of Poverty Through Service Learning. The Social Studies, 101, 1–9. http://doi.org/10.1080/00377990903283965
Gautreau, B. T., & Binns, I. C. (2012). Investigating Student Attitudes and Achievements in an Environmental Place-Based Inquiry in Secondary Classrooms. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 7(2), 167–195.
Gruenewald, D. A. (2008). The best of both worlds : a critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504620802193572
Harrison, S. (2011). “Up at the Shieling”: Place-Based Action Research. Children Youth and Environments, 21(1).
Hill, A. (2013). The Place of Experience and the Experience of Place : Intersections Between Sustainability Education and Outdoor Learning. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 29, 18–32. http://doi.org/10.1017/aee.2013.13
Hofmann, E., & Korvas, P. (2008). Terénní výuka s pohybovými aktivitami, Geographia Cassoviensis, 1, 47–52.
Hofmann, E., Trávníček, M., & Soják, P. (2011). Integrovaná terénní výuka jako systém. In Smíšený design v pedagogickém výzkumu: Sborník příspěvků z 19. výroční konference České asociace pedagogického výzkumu (pp. 310-315).
Howley, A., Howley, M., Camper, C., & Perko, H. (2011). Place-Based Education at Island Community School. The Journal of Environmental Education, 42(4), 216–236. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2011.556682
Chiang, T. H. C., Yang, S. J. H., & Hwang, G. J. (2014). An augmented reality-based mobile learning system to improve students’ learning achievements and motivations in natural science inquiry activities. Educational Technology and Society, 17(4), 352–365.
Christidou, V., Tsevreni, I., Epitropou, M., & Kittas, C. (2013). Exploring primary children’s views and experiences the school ground: The case of a Greek school. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 8(1), 59–83.
Johnson, B., & Činčera, J. (2015). Examining the Relationship between Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour in Education Programmes. Sociální studia, 3, 97–111.
Johnson, B., Duffin, M., & Murphy, M. (2012). Quantifying a relationship between place-based learning and environmental quality. Environmental Education Research, 18(March 2013), 609–624. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.640748
Jorgenson, S. (2014). The Logic of School Gardens: A Phenomenological Study of Teacher Rationales. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 29(2), 121–135. http://doi.org/10.1017/aee.2014.1
Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.
Kovalik, S., & Olsen, K. (1994). ITI: The model. Integrated thematic instruction. Kent: S. Kovalik & Associates.
Liberman, G. & Hoody, L. (1998). Closing the achievement gap: using the environment as an integrating context [online]. State Environment and Education Roundtable California, Science Wizards, 1998 [cit. 30. března 2013]. Dostupné na WWW: http://www.seer.org/extras/execsum.pdf
Liu, T. Y., Tan, T. H., & Chu, Y. L. (2009). Outdoor natural science learning with an RFID-supported immersive ubiquitous learning environment. Educational Technology and Society, 12(4), 161–175. http://doi.org/10.1109/MACE.2011.5988881
Malone, K., & Tranter, P. J. (2003). School Grounds as Sites for Learning: Making the most of environmental opportunities. Environmental Education Research, 9(3), 283–303. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504620303459
Mannion, G., Fenwick, A., & Lynch, J. (2013). Place-responsive pedagogy: learning from teachers’ experiences of excursions in nature. Environmental Education Research, 19(6), 792–809. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2012.749980
Manoli, C. C., Johnson, B., Hadjichambis, A. C., Hadjichambi, D., Georgiou, Y., & Ioannou, H. (2014). Evaluating the impact of the Earthkeepers Earth education program on children’s ecological understandings, values and attitudes, and behaviour in Cyprus. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 41, 29–37. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2013.09.008
Maynard, T., & Waters, J. (2007). Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity? Early Years, 27(3), 255–265. http://doi.org/10.1080/09575140701594400
Medzini, A., Meishar-Tal, H., & Sneh, Y. (2014). Use of mobile technologies as support tools for geography field trips. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 24(1), 13–23. http://doi.org/10.1080/10382046.2014.967514
Motallebzadeh, K. (2014). Place-Based EducationL Does it Improve 21st Century Skills? International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 4(1). http://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.4n.1p.89
Muñoz, S. (2009). Children in the Outdoors. Literature Review. Forres: Sustaianble Development Research Centre. Retrieved from http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/Children%20in%20the%20outdoors%20literature%20review_tcm4-597028.pdf
Nadace Proměny Karla Komárka (2016). České děti venku : Reprezentativní výzkum, kde a jak tráví děti svůj čas. Nadace Proměny Karla Komárka [online] 5. 5. 2016. Dostupné z: http://www.nadace-promeny.cz/cz/vyzkum.html
Nadelson, L. S., & Jordan, J. R. (2012). Student Attitudes Toward and Recall of Outside Day: An Environmental Science Field Trip. The Journal of Educational Research, 105(3), 220–231. http://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2011.576715
Neill, J. T., & Richards, G. E. (1998). Does Outdoor Education Really Work? A Summary Of Recent Meta-Analyses. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 3(1), 1–9.
Neuman, J. (2013). Osobnostní rozvoj prostřednictvím učení a výchovy v přírodě. ACORát 2(1), 47–67.
Nicol, R. (2003). Outdoor education: Research topic or universal value? Part three. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 3(777566411), 11–27. doi:10.1080/14729670385200211
Ontong, K., & Le Grange, L. (2015). The need for place-based education in South African schools: The case of Greenfields Primary. Perspectives in Education, 33(3), 42–57. Retrieved from http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84945947104&partnerID=40&md5=a7038260d927e6beb01ba258cb195df6
Orion, N., & Hofstein, A. (1994). Factors that influence learning during a scientific field trip in a natural environment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31(10), 1097–1119. http://doi.org/10.1002/tea.3660311005
Palmberg, I. E., & Kuru, J. (2000). Outdoor Activities as a Basis for Environmental Responsibility. The Journal of Environmental Education, 31(4), 32–36. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958960009598649
Parmer, S. M., Salisbury-Glennon, J., Shannon, D., & Struempler, B. (2009). School Gardens: An Experiential Learning Approach for a Nutrition Education Program to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Knowledge, Preference, and Consumption among Second-grade Students. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 41(3), 212–217. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2008.06.002
Passy, R. (2014). School gardens: Teaching and learning outside the front door. Education, 42(1), 23-38.
Pavučina (2009). Analýza stavu environmentálního vzdělávání, výchovy a osvěty. Praha: SSEV Pavučina.
Plaka, V., & Skanavis, C. (2016). The feasibility of school gardens as an educational approach in Greece : a survey of Greek schools. International Jr of Innovation & Sustainable Development, 10(2), 141–159. http://doi.org/10.1504/IJISD.2016.075546
Powers, A. L. (2004). An Evaluation of Four Place-Based Education Programs. The Journal of Environmental Education, 35(4), 17–32. http://doi.org/10.3200/JOEE.35.4.17-32
Preston, L. (2015). The Place of Place-Based Education in the Australian Primary Geography Curriculum. Geographical Education, 28, 41–49. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1085985&site=eds-live&scope=site
Priest, S. (1986). Redefining outdoor education: A matter of many relationships. The Journal of Environmental Education, 17(3), 13-15.
Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2005). Effective leadership in adventure programming. Human Kinetics.
Remington, T., & Legge, M. (2016). Outdoor education in rural primary schools in New Zealand: a narrative inquiry. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9679(May), 1–12. http://doi.org/10.1080/14729679.2016.1175362
Rickinson, M. (2001). Learners and Learning in Environmental Education: a critical review of the evidence. Environmental Education (Vol. 7). http://doi.org/10.1080/1350462012006523
Rickinson, M., Dillon, J., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi, M. Y., Sanders, D., & Benefield, P. (2004). A review of research on outdoor learning. National Foundation for Educational Research, King’s College London. Retrieved from https://www.field-studies-council.org/media/268859/2004_a_review_of_research_on_outdoor_learning.pdf
Ruiz-Gallardo, J.-R., Verde, A., & Valdés, A. (2013). Garden-Based Learning: An Experience With “At Risk” Secondary Education Students. The Journal of Environmental Education, 44(4), 252–270. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2013.786669
Rye, J. A., Selmer, S. J., Pennington, S., Vanhorn, L., Fox, S., & Kane, S. (2012). Elementary School Garden Programs Enhance Science Education for All Learners. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 44(6), 58–65.
Semken, S. (2005). Sense of Place and Place-Based Introductory Geoscience Teaching for American Indian and Alaska Native Undergraduates. Journal of Geoscience Education, 53, 149–157.
Sibthorp, J., Furman, N., Paisley, K., Gookin, J., & Schumann, S. (2011). Mechanisms of Learning Transfer in Adventure Education: Qualitative Results From the NOLS Transfer Survey. Journal of Experiential Education, 34(2), 109–126. http://doi.org/10.5193/JEE34.2.109
Skaugen, R., & Fiskum, T. A. (2015). How Schools with Good Academic Results Justify Their Use of Outdoor Education. International Education Research, 3(4), 16–31. http://doi.org/10.12735/ier.v3i4p16
Skinner, E. a., Chi, U., & The Learning-Gardens Educational As. (2012). Intrinsic Motivation and Engagement as “Active Ingredients” in Garden-Based Education: Examining Models and Measures Derived From Self-Determination Theory. The Journal of Environmental Education, 43(October 2013), 16–36. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2011.596856
Slade, M., Lowery, C., & Bland, K. E. N. (2013). Evaluating the impact of Forest Schools: a collaboration between a university and a primary school. Support for Learning, 28(2), 66-72.
Smeds, P., & Jeronen, E. (2011). Rural camp school eco learn–Outdoor education in rural settings. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 6(3), 267–291. Retrieved from http://ijese.com/IJESE_v6n3_Smeds-et-al.pdf
Smeds, P., Jeronen, E., & Kurppa, S. (2015). Farm education and the value of learning in an authentic learning environment. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 10(3), 381–404. http://doi.org/10.12973/ijese.2015.251a
Smetáčková, I. (2011). Škola v přírodě: limity a dilemata. Pedagogická orientace, 21(4), 416–435.
Smith, G. (2007). Place‐based education: breaking through the constraining regularities of public school. Environmental Education Research, 13(2), 189–207. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504620701285180
Sobel, D. (2005). Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms & Communities. techreport, Barrington: The Orion Society.
Stern, M. J., Powell, R. B., & Ardoin, N. M. (2008). What Difference Does It Make? Assessing Outcomes From Participation in a Residential Environmental Education Program. The Journal of Environmental Education, 39(4), 31–43. http://doi.org/10.3200/JOEE.39.4.31-43
Stevenson, K. T., Peterson, M. N., Carrier, S. J., Strnad, R. L., Bondell, H. D., Kirby-Hathaway, T., & Moore, S. E. (2014). Role of significant life experiences in building environmental knowledge and behavior among middle school students. The Journal of Environmental Education, 45(3), 163–177. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2014.901935
Swarbrick, N., Eastwood, G., & Tutton, K. (2004). Self-esteem and successful interaction as part of the forest school project. Support for Learning, 19(3), 142–146. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.0268-2141.2004.00337.
The Real World Learning (2015). Real world learning model. Retrieved from http://www.rwlnetwork.org/rwl-model.aspx
Thomson, S. (2007). Do’s and don’ts: children’s experiences of the primary school playground. Environmental Education Research, 13(4), 487–500. http://doi.org/10.1080/13504620701581588
Vácha, Z. (2015). Didaktické využití školních zahrad v České republice na primárním stupni základních škol. SciEd 6(1), 80–90.
Van Matre, S. (1999). Earth Education .. a new beginning. Greenville: The Institute for Earth Education.
Zelezny, L. C. (1999). Educational Interventions That Improve Environmental Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Environmental Education, 31(1), 5–14. http://doi.org/10.1080/00958969909598627
Zink, R., & Burrows, L. (2008). “Is what you see what you get?” The production of knowledge in-between the indoors and the outdoors in outdoor education. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 13(3), 251–265. http://doi.org/10.1080/17408980701345733
Žák, M. (2011). Jaký má vliv úvodní soustředění (nebo-li adaptační kurz) na kvalitu sociálních vztahů ve třídním kolektivu? Gymnos Akadémos, 1(2), 28-42.