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Promoting equitable and alternative early learning opportunities through outdoor learning: A case study of the Bush School Project in Western Australia

Sofa, Betty-Mai (2014) Promoting equitable and alternative early learning opportunities through outdoor learning: A case study of the Bush School Project in Western Australia. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Following the deterioration in academic performances, unsustainable development, community detachment and increasing trends in social and emotional difficulties, several countries have and are investing resources to provide young children with outdoor learning experiences. Despite the global rise of outdoor learning research in the last two decades, the outdoor is still an underutilized context for learning. This study explored outdoor learning in a Western Australian context and it is particularly interested in whether an outdoor learning pedagogy can respond to disparities in learning outcomes and offer alternative early learning opportunities. It specifically examines the outdoor learning experiences that the Bush School Project provides to a group of Aboriginal and non–Aboriginal Year One pupils.

A case study approach was used: field observations were carried out over three half days; two informal interviews were conducted, one with an Aboriginal Elder and another with one of the Bush School facilitators, plus several small informal conversations with class teachers and children on site. Existing data was also utilised where relevant. The data gathered was analysed using content analysis. The study revealed that the Bush School project focused mainly on the learning and development of the Aboriginal pupils with an emphasis on cultural identity and wellbeing. The outdoor learning experiences involved Aboriginal children in deepening their cultural knowledge. Taking into account that traditionally Aboriginal people had a close connection to nature, referred to as ‘country’, learning in the outdoors enabled these Aboriginal children to connect with their culture on country. The outdoor learning experiences also provided the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal pupils with opportunities to sharpen their social skills, to connect to and understand the curriculum in the outdoors, and how to protect and appreciate the environment.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Lee-Hammond, Libby
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/25038
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