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What are the Benefits of Outdoor Learning?

The potential benefits of outdoor learning are so many that they are grouped below in four broad categories: background, planned, bonus and wider benefits.

Background benefits of Outdoor Learning
are benefits that arise from spending time in the natural environment.

5 key ways in which exposure to the natural environment is beneficial to human health:

  • enhanced personal and social communication skills
  • increased physical health
  • enhanced mental and spiritual health
  • enhanced spiritual, sensory, and aesthetic awareness
  • the ability to assert personal control and increased sensitivity to one's own well-being.

Source: Health, Well-Being and Open Space, Literature Review by Nina Morris, OPENspace Research Centre, (2003).

Planned benefits of Outdoor Learning
are benefits that are determined by, or negotiated with, the provider of Outdoor Learning. For example, the City of Salford expects Educational Trips and Visits to help young people to:

  • develop self esteem, take personal responsibility, co-operate with and respect the needs of others;
  • extend their personal horizons through greater appreciation and understanding of the world and its peoples around them;
  • understand the need for sustainable relationships between people and their environment;
  • enhance practical problem solving and team work skills.
  • promote a positive and knowledgeable response towards personal health and well being.

"Educational Trips and Visits are particularly effective when young people engage in well planned and structured, first hand experiences in small groups, with opportunities to reflect and build upon those experiences." Source: Educational Trips and Visits, Health and Safety Guidance Notes, City of Salford (Revised 2003)

Bonus benefits of Outdoor Learning
arise where participants gain more value than was expected. Such benefits happen more by chance than by design, but they are more likely to happen when there is a highly supportive climate for learning. 

Wider benefits of Outdoor Learning
are benefits to stakeholders such as families, schools, sponsors, society and future generations (especially in relation to sustainability). Ultimately we are all stakeholders in the success of Outdoor Learning. The more that wider stakeholders are involved, the greater the opportunities for achieving these wider benefits. 

What is Outdoor Learning:

INDEX: What is Outdoor Learning?

Introduction page to this research

How Safe is Outdoor Learning?

How Much Outdoor Learning is going on?

Why Outdoor Learning Matters: the case for Outdoor Learning

Who supports Outdoor Learning and Why?

Campaigns for Outdoor Learning

What are the Benefits of Outdoor Learning?

Examples of benefits gained from OL

What does the research say about Outdoor Learning?

Where to find Outdoor Learning Research?

Outdoor Learning Research in other Journals?


The “What is Outdoor Learning?” research was undertaken by Dr. Roger Greenaway, author of publications such as 'Playback'. The idea for the research project came from the English Outdoor Council, and has been funded by IOL. It is potentially a key resource for the field.

Links to other websites were correct at the time of publication.