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What does the research say?

This section provides summaries of key findings from reviews of research and major studies in Outdoor Learning. Each review asks different questions about a different kinds of Outdoor Learning. The overall impact of these collections of research studies is impressive. They demonstrate what can be achieved through Outdoor Learning. The outdoors provides a wide array of opportunities for achieving a whole range of outcomes. Some outcomes require careful design and facilitation, whereas other outcomes simply arise from being outdoors - as is demonstrated by the work of the OPENspace Research Centre described in the first section below.

1. Literature Reviews about the benefits of being outdoors (UK)
OPENspace Research Centre, Edinburgh College of Art, 2003 and 2006.

2. Changing Minds: The Lasting Impact of School Trips (UK)
Long term study of the effects of planned trips with primary school children.
Alan Peacock, Honorary Research Fellow, The Innovation Centre, University of Exeter, 2006.

3. A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning (UK)
Literature review of 150 studies in the period 1993-2003.
Mark Rickinson and NFER colleagues. Field Studies Council, 2004. 

4. Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience (USA)
Major study involving over 5000 families from 80 camps.
Philliber Research Associates and the American Camping Association, 2005.

5. Why Adventure? The Role and Value of Outdoor Adventure in young people's personal and social development (UK)
Literature Review focusing on the more adventurous kinds of outdoor learning.
Jon Barrett and Roger Greenaway, commissioned by the Foundation for Outdoor Adventure, 1995.

6. Summary of the Effects of Outdoor Education Programs or "Does Outdoor Education Work?" (Australia)
Meta-analysis of 97 outcome studies from around the world.
James Neill, International Education Vol.3, No. 4, 1999 and revised for Wilderdom, 2006.

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.