|The Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California|
|Detail:|| The American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted an evaluation to measure the impacts of week-long residential outdoor education programs for at-risk sixth graders in California. As described by California Assembly Bill (AB) Number 1330, Chapter 663, the Outdoor Environmental Education Program is designed to “foster stewardship of the environment and an appreciation of the importance of the wise use of natural resources.” This report presents the findings from the AIR evaluation.|
This study focused on 255 sixth-grade students from four elementary schools who attended three outdoor education programs (also referred to as outdoor science schools) between September and November of 2004. The evaluation utilized a “delayed treatment design.” Within participating elementary schools, sixth-grade children were divided, by classroom, into two groups.Approximately half of each school’s sixth grade (one or more classrooms) attended outdoor school between September and November of 2004 and served as the treatment group. The remaining sixth grade classrooms were scheduled to attend outdoor school after the study’s data collection period ended in December 2004, thereby serving as the control group during the study period.
The specific research questions addressed in this study are as follows:
1. How does participation in outdoor education programs impact students’ personal and social skills (e.g., self-esteem, cooperation, teamwork)?
2. How does participation in outdoor education programs foster students’ stewardship of the environment and their appreciation of the importance of the wise use of natural resources?
3. How does the science instruction received through the outdoor education program curriculum increase students’ knowledge and understanding of science concepts?
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Source: American Institutes for Research