Replacing classroom with outdoors

New La Trobe research advocates the educational and emotional benefits of the 'great outdoors' for optimal learning.

Professor Margaret Robertson, lead editor of the new book Experiencing the Outdoors: Enhancing Strategies for Wellbeing, said the findings showed students can be more focussed and creative when learning in a natural setting.

She said the book discusses this and how experiences in the outdoors help people in many ways.

"Experiencing the outdoors is central to our emotional wellbeing."

"It provides an arena for enjoyment, personal development and memories that contribute to emotional health. The great outdoors is food to replenish our sense of wellbeing."

The twenty chapters in the book feature the work of researchers from La Trobe University's outdoor and environmental education courses, as well as internationally recognised experts in related fields. The book aims to assist researchers to better understand the value for humans of 'being in the outdoors'.

"This is an opportunity for early career researchers to share exciting work, much of which has strong connections to regional Victoria and Australia," Professor Roberston said.

Eight La Trobe researchers contributed chapters to the book on a diverse range of topics, including:

  • An investigation into why students learn more effectively on fieldtrips than in classrooms;
  • The development of a canoe trail in the Barmah Forest on the Murray River;
  • And an exploration into how Indigenous Australians understand the landscape of the Lurunjarra Heritage Trail, near Broome in the Northern Territory.

Professor Robertson said La Trobe University has developed a strong environmental and outdoor education program in Bendigo, including excellent undergraduate courses and world class research.

Experiencing the Outdoors: Enhancing Strategies for Wellbeing's editors are Professor Margaret Robertson, Dr Ruth Lawrence and Dr Greg Heath. The book will be launched on Tuesday 24 March at La Trobe University's Bendigo Campus.

Media enquiries: Tom O'Callaghan, Media and Communications, T 03 5444 7415, M 0408 900 469

Image credit: Bush Walk - img_1481 by Poo-tee-weet?

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