Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Guoqiang George Zhou


Early childhood education, Elementary education



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This qualitative research study examines whether the outdoor environments of elementary schools found in Windsor and Essex County reflected the theories and methodologies of scholars within academic literature with respect to outdoor school environments. For purposes of this study, outdoor environments will consist of the grounds surrounding the school building, inclusive of schoolyards and playgrounds. It is not uncommon for a school's population to grow beyond its intended capacity. As a result, the grounds surrounding a school building may be used for installation of portable classrooms, expansion of the school building, addition of parking spaces and so forth. These structural changes often detract from the original outdoor school environment and its intended purpose or function. A convenient sample was generated for this study from elementary schools of the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board. The elementary schools selected for inclusion in this research study came from a non-probabilistic sampling. I conducted the data collection process between Saturday, February 4, 2012 and Sunday, February 5, 2012 in order to maintain as much uniformity as possible with regards to the weather conditions at each research site. The techniques and instruments that I utilized in this investigation were as follows: personal observations, field notes, and photography that focussed on the overall outdoor school environments. I believe the results from this investigation contributes information to decisions makers with regards to new or changes to the school architecture, as well as may assist policy makers and educators with improving outdoor school environments for students. Some of the outcomes from this research study include: a significant distinction between new and old (schools), related to the tangible space of their outdoor environments. Moreover, it should be noted that, the rural schools examined in this research study ranked higher than their urban counterparts, based on their individual checklist scores. Lastly, these findings illustrate that schools located in lower income neighbourhoods faired better than those in more affluent areas.