Hiking in the wilderness: Interplay between teachers’ and students’ agencies in outdoor learning

Marjaana Kangas, Hanna Vuojärvi, Pirkko Siklander, Education in the North

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This study aimed to find out the ways in which teachers’ and students’ agency emerge in outdoor learning and in which ways students’ agentic engagement could be promoted and supported. Outdoor learning is defined here as cognitive, emotional, social, physical and educational processes designed for and taking place in natural contexts. The study was conducted during a three-day hiking course taking place in the wilderness of Finnish Lapland. The participants were 21 upper elementary students and their two teachers. The research data consists of qualitative interviews recorded during the hiking trip, audio-recorded field notes and students’ digital diaries. The data were analyzed qualitatively. The findings indicate four aspects of students’ agentic engagement, which are promoted through teachers’ agency emerging through evoking past experiences, future orientations and being closely engaged with the present. The results provide evidence to support developing outdoor learning pedagogies particularly in terms of promoting generic skill development, students’ sense of agency and self-directed learning in authentic settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-31
Number of pages25
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2018


  • agency
  • agentic engagement
  • outdoor learning
  • upper elementary school
  • curriculum


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