Natural Outdoor Classrooms: A National Survey

In 2019, Samuel Dennis Jr, Christine Kiewra, and Alexandra Wells finalized their findings from the National Natural Outdoor Classroom Study.

The survey began as a collaboration of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, with its Nature Explore Program, and Child Educational Center, with its Outdoor Classroom Project, and the EDL. The design foundations are among the organizations at the forefront of the movement in the United States to create nature-based learning environments in early childhood settings. To date, hundreds of natural outdoor classrooms have been built using their evidence-based guiding principles. More research on how these natural spaces are affecting children’s learning can influence educators, administrators, school district officials, and policymakers to make informed decisions regarding where and how to invest resources that enhance education quality.

The goal of the project was to conduct a survey with educators and administrators who work with children in natural outdoor classrooms to examine educators’ observations and perceptions related to supporting children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development; educator perceptions of their own experiences in the outdoor classroom; and administrators’ perceived value of natural outdoor classrooms for their programs.

The National Natural Outdoor Classroom Study was conceived through a partnership between Nature Explore, The Outdoor Classroom Project, and the Environmental Design Lab in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Natural Outdoor Classrooms: A National Survey

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