Environmental Outdoor Education and Exposure to Nature: The Positive Effects on Student Wellness and Academic Achievement

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  • The purpose of my final project is to evaluate the research literature that examines how Environmental Outdoor Education (EOE), and similar type activities, can improve student wellness and academic achievement through exposure to nature and the outdoors. This evaluation takes the form of an annotated bibliography, which I feel will not only satisfy my goal to know more about this topic, but will also be useful for future reference by other interested parties. I am not aware of any other such annotated bibliography at the University of Alberta or in Alberta in general. If I expect to advance EOE I thought it would be best to create a resource that others with similar interest can use and possibly add to the progress of EOE. I also include in my capping project a script of the possible presentation I hope to give to the Edmonton Public School Board elected trustees. My presentation would focus on how EOE can improve the academic achievement, as well as the mental and emotional well-being, of the students in Edmonton Public Schools. It is my goal that Edmonton Public School Board will take the necessary steps to promote and advance EOE across the school board, so that it will become a highly valued and respected option that is taught by experts in the schools within which it is offered. Research suggests that when adolescents participate in activities inherent in Environmental Outdoor Education, not only do they increase their physical well-being, but there also are measurable improvements in self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, and social well-being, as well as reductions in stress levels (Davidson, 2001; Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards, 1997; McLeod & Allen-Craig, 2007). There are also studies that show how exposure to nature improves mental ability which can translate into improved academic success ( Berman, Jonides & Kaplan, 2008). The terms: Outdoor Education, Adventure Education, Wilderness Education, Outdoor Pursuits and Experiential Education are a part of Environmental Outdoor Education. In the following paper they all will be referred to by the term Environmental Outdoor Education.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International