This study aims to describe udeskole teachers’ use of inquiry based approaches in mathematics and science lessons.
Regular education outside the classroom (EOtC), in Scandinavia known as udeskole (Bentsen et al., 2010; 2012), is becoming a widespread educational approach for school children in Denmark (Barfod et al., 2016). Among the sixteen major changes of the national curriculum in the recent reform of the Danish school, especially three have an impact on the development of udeskole: 1) a longer and more varied school day; 2) more PE, physical exercise and activity; and 3) the open school. Inspired by Denmark, similar approaches are developing in other European countries, e.g. Germany and England.
Research results reveal a positive impact from EOtC and udeskole on pupils learning and well-being (e.g. Fiennes et al., 2015; Rickinson et al., 2004). However, less attention has been to the teachers, even though one of the most important features for children’s outcome is the teachers’ decisions and their approach to teaching - ‘what teachers do matters’ (Hattie, 2009, p. 22).
It is suggested, that it is not only the variation in place (e.g. going outdoors), but also the following variation in teaching approach that constitute the potentials of udeskole (Jordet, 2010). Jordet’s model points to a teaching practice outdoors, that involves problem-solving, explorative and practical approaches, and constructive, creative and playful approaches.
John H. Falk (2005) introduced the concept free choice learning as an alternative to the dictomy formal – and informal learning. Emphasising that it’s barely the place or institutional context that defines the type of learning, but more if the method is open-ended, inquiry-based and optional. ‘The operational issue is perceived choice and control by the learner’ (p. 273). The term free choice learning recognizes characteristics of learning as non-sequential, self-paced and voluntary (Falk, 2005) and the socially constructed nature of learning.
Bamberger and Tal (2006) developed a model describing levels of choice during class visits in museums in Israel. Their scale was divided into four steps, from ‘no choice’, the guided tour, to two levels of limited choice with different choices regarding what to work with (topic), where to go (space), what to work with or learn about (object), for how long time (time) with whom (peers, instructors, teachers) and with what kind of interactions (interactions), and in what order, tasks could be done (order). At the other end of the scale was the free exploration of the exhibition. Similarly, a model of outdoor teaching introduced by Beames (2006), scaled the teaching from ‘instructor driven’ to ‘learning negotiated’. Unsurprisingly, the effectiveness of learning at the museum was indicated to be enhanced by the limited choice visits, ‘offered scaffolding, allowed the students to control their learning, and enhanced deeper engagement in the learning process’ (Bamberger & Tal, 2006, p. 75).
Udeskole teachers positiones themselves among the progressive, holistic approaches to education (Bentsen et al., 2012). Glackin (2016) showed that science teachers with traditional learning beliefs have less success in teaching outdoors, and successful outdoor teachers hold social constructivist beliefs about learning. In accordance with these observations, both beliefs and theory support an udeskole practice with an inquiry based, constructivist approach to education.
Therefore, this paper aims to explore experienced teachers’ practices in udeskole in relation to free choices in the teaching in Mathematics and Science.
Bamberger, Y., & Tal, T. (2007). Learning in a personal context: Levels of choice in a free choice learning environment in science and natural history museums. Science Education, 91(1), 75–95. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20174 Barfod, K., Ejbye-Ernst, N., Mygind, L., & Bentsen, P. (2016). Increased provision of udeskole in Danish schools: An updated national population survey. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 20, 277–281. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2016.09.012 Beames, S. (2006) Losing my religion. Pathways. The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education. 19 (1): 4-11. Bentsen, P., Søndergaard Jensen, F., Mygind, E., Barfoed Randrup, T. (2010). The extent and dissemination of udeskole in Danish schools. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 9(3):235–43. Bentsen, P., Jensen, F.S. (2012). The nature of udeskole: outdoor learning theory and practice in Danish schools. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning. 12(3):199–219. Falk, J. H. (2005). Free‐choice environmental learning: framing the discussion. Environmental Education Research, 11(3), 265–280. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504620500081129 Fiennes, C., Oliver, E., Dickson, K., Escobar, D., Romans, A., & Oliver, S. (2015). The Existing Evidence-Base about the Effectiveness of Outdoor Learning - Final Report October 2015. Giving Evidence, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, The Institute for Outdoor Learning. Retrieved from http://www.outdoor-learning.org/Portals/0/IOL%20Documents/Blagrave%20Report/Outdoor%20Learning%20Blagrave-Giving%20Evidence%20Final%20Report%20Nov%202015.pdf Glackin, M. (2016). “Risky fun” or “Authentic science”? How teachers’ beliefs influence their practice during a professional development programme on outdoor learning. International Journal of Science Education, 38(3), 409–433. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2016.1145368 Hattie, J.A.C. (2009) Visible Learning. A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routlegde, London and New York. Jordet, A. N. (2010). Klasserommet utenfor. Tilpasset oplæring i et utvidet læringsrom. Cappelen akademiske; [In Norwegian] Rickinson, M., Dillon, J., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi, M. Y., Sanders, D., & Benefield, P. (2004). A review of research on Outdoor Learning.Kings College, London. Retrieved from http://www.field-studies-council.org/documents/general/nfer/a_review_of_research_on_outdoor_learning.pdf
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