04 SES 04 A, Dialogue, Communication and Structural Social Relationships
In several countries around Europe, teachers in primary and lower secondary schools use the educational possibilities of the concrete living world surrounding the school-institutions by relocating the teaching and learning activities to local places outside the classroom in natural and cultural settings (Bentsen, Mygind, & Randrup, 2009; Fägerstam & Blom, 2013; Rickinson et al., 2004; Waite, Rogers, & Evans, 2013).
Education Outside the Classroom (EOtC) is described as involving innovative teaching methods, child-led approaches to problem solving, experimentation, lower levels of adult presence, cooperation, play and physical activity (Bentsen et al., 2009; Waite, Bølling, & Bentsen, 2015; Waite et al., 2013). As described in Self-Determination Theory (SDT) (Ryan & Deci, 2000), it is therefore likely that EOtC supports the three basic needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy important to wellbeing and motivation.
Scholars across Europe have noted the inherent possibilities of EOtC to promote social cohesion of school class communities through play and games (Mygind, 2009; Waite et al., 2013) and through non-theoretical concrete working methods (Hartmeyer & Mygind, 2015). A small Danish longitudinal case study has shown that pupils obtain new play-relations during breaks in forest settings due to the use of social games during the teaching (Mygind, 2009). This study was followed up by a retrospective small scale study addressing the class community social relations highlighting that EOtC gave rise to the application of practical skills among pupils different from the ones applied during indoor classroom teaching which lead to a feeling of being able to contribute in group work (Hartmeyer & Mygind, 2015). Waite et al. (2013) have noted that peer play and interaction in outdoor learning spaces may contribute to class cohesion. I the light of humans’ basic need for relatedness to others described in SDT, we argue that EOtC supports pupils feeling of belongingness and connectedness with their peers which is important to their thriving.
Due to a lack of large scale and experimental study design on EOtC, our study explores the development of pupils’ school class community, social network and pro-social behaviours. We ask whether or not regular use of EOtC can enhance the social cohesion of class communities, and lower the social exclusion of social and educational marginalised pupils, and improve pupil experience of peer pro-social behaviour.
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