Date of Award
Master of Arts in Child Development
First Reader/Committee Chair
Current research suggests that time spent in nature benefits all aspects of children’s development. However, children are spending little time outdoors. Additionally, there are few preschool programs that recognize the outdoors as an extension of the traditional classroom and even fewer college courses and training programs that specifically address outdoor education. The purpose of this project was to educate early childhood teachers about nature’s benefits and provide them with the knowledge necessary to implement their own outdoor classrooms. The trainings focused on seven topics related to the importance and development of an outdoor classroom: introduction to the outdoor classroom, benefits of nature and the consequences of its removal, developmental theories related to children’s learning outdoors, outdoor curriculum and activities, teacher engagement, outdoor assessment, and implementing an outdoor classroom. Pre- and post‑training assessments indicated that the training increased teachers’ perceived knowledge about outdoor classrooms, their likelihood of engaging in positive teaching behaviors outdoors, and their confidence regarding the implementation of an outdoor classroom. Overall, the trainings accomplished the desired effect of educating teachers on the importance of an outdoor classroom. However, few of the teachers who initially signed up for the training completed the four sessions. Future trainings might consider offering larger incentives, condensing the number of sessions and information provided, and/or including center directors and administrators as participants in order to recruit more participants and increase the likelihood that outdoor classrooms will be implemented at more centers.
Claffey, Heather I., "BRINGING THE WONDER OF NATURE BACK TO EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOMS" (2016). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 328.