Date of Award

10-30-2020

Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dragana Martinovic

Keywords

educators, Lebanon, outdoor education, private school, public school

Rights

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

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.

Abstract

In this era plagued with a detrimental sedentary indoor lifestyle, children are becoming further disconnected from the outdoors, including the natural environment. Many reasons could be causing this prevalent way of life, such as parents’ concerns over their children’s safety and the increase in time spent in front of a screen. One way to counter this harmful trend that can lead to both mental and physical health problems is to implement outdoor education in schools and daycares. Research suggests that outdoor education can not only help students engage in physical activities, but also improve their (a) mental, and emotional wellbeing, (b) personal and interpersonal skills, (c) knowledge about the different curriculum subjects, and (d) an appreciation for and understanding of the natural environment . Despite the many benefits of outdoor education, little has been done to explore this concept in the Middle Eastern Lebanese school context. Thus, the purpose of this multisite mixed methods case study research was to explore the perceptions and attitudes of Lebanese elementary school educators coming from one public and one private school. In total, 30 educators agreed to participate in the study. The sample consisted of 27 classroom teachers and one private school vice principal who completed a questionnaire in addition to the two school principals who were individually interviewed. Findings showed that the majority of participants perceived outdoor education as beneficial. Aligning with this result, 20 educators from the two sectors suggested a several perceived benefits from engaging in outdoor education activities, such as improving the students’ social skills as well as their mental and emotional health which tend to motivate them to better learn. Furthermore, both groups of participants offered several ideas to integrate outdoor education in the teaching of different subject matters along with the guidelines of the Lebanese National Environmental Education strategy. Moreover, educators from both study sites perceived the collaboration between teachers and administration as a crucial factor in the successful implementation of any educational program, including outdoor education. In addition, study participants from the two sectors proposed many implementation challenges which made some of them reluctant to embrace outdoor education. Commonly perceived barriers encompassed (a) maintaining the control and the safety of the students outdoors, (b) covering the curriculum expectations, (c) securing essential resources to facilitate the outdoor education activities, and (d) getting necessary training for educators. One implementation challenge that was solely advanced by the private school educators was “time constraints.” Other contrasting elements that emerged from both cases manifested in the permissions that are needed to engage in outdoor activities and the impact of the socio-economic statuses of the schools on the provision of outdoor education-related activities. Various implications for practice and theory emerged from these findings. One contribution was the adaptation of Knowles’ (1992) and Klausewitz’s (2005) Biographical Transformation Models to fit the theoretical framework and findings of the present study. Finally, a set of recommendations for future research was proposed, including the replication of the present study in urban settings and at a high school level to form a comprehensive picture of outdoor education in the Lebanese context. Furthermore, it is advisable to explore the perspectives of students, parents, the personnel from the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education as well as other stakeholders, such as professors at the Faculties of Education of different Lebanese universities, toward the integration of outdoor education. These recommended studies could be conducted in Lebanon, the Middle East, Canada, or elsewhere where a need for relevant research is required.

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