There is growing global awareness of the importance of what are often labelled as ‘natural environments’ for human health, well-being and cognitive development. However, fostering learning in such ‘natural environments’, as they may be differently experienced and understood, requires a review of theoretical and practical approaches in teacher education, foregrounding the sensorial, experiential, embodied and relational dimensions of learning processes. This paper presents the results of an exploratory study on the experiences of a group of first year undergraduate student teachers enrolled in a newly introduced course on outdoor learning. Adopting a pragmatic and enactivist mixed methods approach, the study provides evidence of impact of the course on the students. Specifically, the study contributes a qualitative description of student teachers’ learning trajectories, featuring what students deemed to be significant moments of an emerging ecological awareness. Findings point to important implications for curriculum and pedagogy, promoting environmental consciousness in formal teacher education contexts.
Bibliographical noteWe would like to thank the three reviewers who provided insightful commentary and useful suggestions for engaging with the complex and contested conceptualisations integrated into this study. Sitting at the intersection of current theoretical and methodological paradigms, their feedback has been extremely useful in taking our own thinking forward. We thank them wholeheartedly.
- outdoor learning
- ecological identity
- nature connectedness