The relationship between outdoor classroom learning experiences and achievement and attitude of eighth grade students

Lisa Jant Beard

Abstract

Outdoor activities and classroom learning complement one another. This study was conducted in the spring of 1998 utilizing 104 students included in the eighth-grade populations of two middle schools located in the southern region of the United States. The specific purposes of this study were to determine the difference between indoor classroom instruction (control group) and classroom instruction which had been augmented by using an outdoor classroom (experimental group) on the criterion variables of achievement and attitude, and to determine if the difference between the experimental and the control groups on the criterion variables of achievement and attitude was related to the independent variables of economic status and gender. An additional purpose of this study was to determine if the criterion variables of achievement and attitude within the control and the experimental groups are related to the independent variables of economic status and gender. This study also provided descriptive data relevant to the variables of the study. Some of the major findings of the study were as follows: the experimental group achievement scores were higher than were the achievement scores of the control group. The attitude toward school of both the experimental and the control groups did not significantly differ. The low economic status level students in the experimental group had a higher achievement mean than their counterparts within the control group. Females, especially when comparing those students on the low economic level, had a higher achievement mean than males for both the experimental and the control groups. The low economic status level students who were in the control group achieved at a much lower rate than all other participants, but their attitudes were slightly more positive than that of the other participants. The use of outdoor classrooms and outdoor education within the regular school curricula has been supported academically by research and by educational philosophy. Outdoor learning can have a significant effect on academic achievement and, possibly, attitude.