Motivation and pedagogical ecology of school-based outdoor science teaching: a multiple case study
Vallor, Rosanna Rohrs
MetadataShow full item record
This study examines why and how teachers incorporate school-based outdoor teaching in their pedagogies. Research demonstrates that students gain in a range of areas when learning outdoors, but teachers can face multiple barriers when considering outdoor teaching, and many choose not to teach outdoors. There is limited research about why and how successful teachers choose to plan and manage outdoor teaching. Using a multiple case study of three public-school teachers, in grades 4, 7, and high school, who have consistently taught outdoors for over 15 years each, the study addressed why exemplary teachers choose to teach outdoors and how exemplary teachers accomplish outdoor teaching. Each teacher constituted an individual case. Semi-structured interview responses, questionnaires, field observation notes, and video-recall interviews were coded and analyzed using NVivo software. Analytic narratives based on themes within the coded data were then developed for individual cases, followed by cross-case analysis of the three cases. The findings indicated that the teachers were motivated to teach outdoors by perceived positive student impacts, by outstanding available outdoor spaces, and by their personal connections to the natural world. Teachers plan and manage outdoor teaching, with administration and community cooperation, to take advantage of opportunities for students to engage in their local environment. These findings were synthesized into the Pedagogical Ecology of Outdoor Teaching (PEOT) model. The PEOT model includes teachers' motivations, contextual factors, and teacher-operational factors in sequential, iterative relationship, and illustrates the complexity and uniqueness of teachers' situations when considering outdoor teaching. Future research incorporating the PEOT model could analyze teachers' contexts and environmental connections to determine assets and needs in their situations. Action plans to address those needs could then be developed to assist teachers and districts to develop outdoor teaching opportunities.