I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.
But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?
We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes, being in outdoor classrooms, or taking field trips to the beach or old growth forests all are great experiences. But, I haven’t seen the empirical evidence to support that notion.
Now, three researchers have reviewed hundreds of other studies to find an answer to the question of whether being in nature makes a difference to learning.
The unequivocal answer is YES.
The review, published in February 2019 (Do Experiences With Nature Promote Learning? Converging Evidence of a Cause-and-Effect Relationship), shows that learning in nature can have profound effects on overall student achievement.
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