Teachers' perceptions of value and effects of outdoor education during an age of accountability
The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of teachers' perceptions of the value and effects of a residential Outdoor Education experience during an age of accountability, which was defined as the era which commenced with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Focus group interviews were conducted with four groups of teachers who participated in a residential Outdoor Education experience with their students during the 2004-2005 school year. The major findings of this study were: (1) Teachers perceive value in the OE experience because of the multi-faceted effects upon their students and classes; (2) Teachers perceived the OE experience positively affected their students' learning through providing hands-on and authentic experiences, development of thinking skills, and enhancing the school's curriculum; (3) Teachers perceived the OE experience positively affected their students' social and emotional development as evidenced by an increase in self esteem, independence, maturity, personal responsibility, and an expanded worldview; (4) Teachers perceived the OE experience positively affected their students' sense of community as evidenced by an increase in team building and cohesiveness, more productive staff-student relationships, the emergence of different "star" students, and greater inclusion of special needs students; (5) Teachers perceived students' appreciation of the environment increased; and (6) Teachers did not perceive any imminent changes to their school's Outdoor Education programming due to the accountability provisions of No Child Left behind (2001). This study's findings suggested implications for school administrators, which were that they should: articulate desired effects to stakeholders; communicate connections to learning standards; and expand the OE experience to foster greater environmental issue focus.
0714: Science education