Engaging students in the learning process increases their attention, focus, motivation and promotes meaningful and authentic learning experiences. Outdoor education excursions place students at the centre of the learning, increasing opportunities for student engagement and contributing to positive student outcomes.
Student engagement refers to the extent to which students identify with, and value schooling outcomes and participate in academic and non-academic school activities.
As Professor Deborah J. Stipek writes in the Handbook of Educational Psychology, "engaged students are more likely to approach tasks eagerly and to persist in the face of difficulty. They are also more likely to seek opportunities for learning when the extrinsic awards are not available."
Engaged students experience greater satisfaction with school experiences, which may, in turn, lead to greater school completion.
According to Edutopia, engaged students:
In contrast, disengagement:
Student engagement is not only an essential outcome, but it is also directly related to academic performance and future outcomes. For example, a 2009 American study of 78,106 students in 160 schools across eight states, found that a 1% increase in student engagement was associated with a 6% increase in reading achievement and an 8% increase in maths achievement scores.
Student engagement as a learning process is as an essential classroom measure in terms of being able to predict immediate and future student outcomes. An Australian study used data from the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study and a school engagement index to demonstrate increased student engagement has a flow-on effect regarding educational and employment success. The study found students who engaged in their learning, had a 10% higher chance of attaining further education during the following 20 years. A recent report on the Review to Achieve Excellence in Australian schools by the NSW Department of Education and Training identified a key priority for Australian education is to "equip every child to be a creative, connected and engaged learner in a rapidly changing world."
The Australian Journal of Teacher Education Vol 45, 3, points to multiple research findings and state policies illustrating the value of understanding and improving student engagement in Australian schools and signals the importance of engagement to support student learning and wellbeing overall.
However, we know we cannot simply tell students education is important. It is our responsibility to promote their engagement in learning through dynamic and considered pedagogy.
A simple and effective way to support student engagement is by incorporating learning experiences outside the classroom. The environment in which a child spends their time plays a significant role in brain development. With Australia's youth spending up to 30% of their waking time in front of a screen, taking classroom learning outside can help enrich students' educational experiences by creating a unique experience, bringing education to life.
A trip to a museum, zoo or aquarium offers students some understanding of the world and an opportunity to learn through observation; however, outdoor education excursions provide an exceptionally immersive experience, imparting physical and developmental benefits unlike any other.
Outdoor education excursions are designed with purpose, to engage your students and empower them for success. When students have the opportunity to fully engage in their education – physically and emotionally, they break away from their routine, and learning becomes engrossing. During an outdoor education excursion, students take their knowledge with them to make the connections between their classroom learning and the outside world. These connections reinforce to students what they're learning is useful beyond their time in the classroom.
Some student's worlds can seem small, but the community each child lives in is an incredible resource for broadening it. Within each student's city or region, they can access places that cannot be replicated in the classroom. This multisensory learning experience brings education to life. An outdoor education excursion is a way to provide each student with real-world, hands-on experience, no matter what their previous exposure has been.
Outdoor education excursions invite your students to discover local parks and outdoor environments, developing their sense of place and social engagement. A sense of place allows children to understand they belong in the physical world around them and in the social and cultural world they share with others. Outdoor education excursions, by design, connect students with their physical environments and their community.
Developing a sense of place enhances a child's sense of belonging. A sense of belonging contributes to student's overall social and emotional development. When young people feel a sense of belonging, they understand their ability to function in and contribute to their community. They become more willing to work with others; they thrive because they feel safe, nurtured and valued, and their engagement is often enhanced.
The Grattan Institute's report, Engaging Students, notes "Student participation is a critical part of effective teaching and learning. Without opportunities to speak, problem-solve and work with others, students may quietly disengage or become restless – and teachers may not know if those students are learning… Opportunities to collaborate with peers and do group work also improve a student's achievement, interpersonal relationships and attitudes to learning."
Outdoor education excursions provide endless opportunities for your students to collaborate, problem-solve and explore various forms of communication. For example, during canoeing, students rely on each other for emotional and physical support as they learn new skills. They must listen and communicate effectively and are encouraged to support their peers' decisions while building their own confidence.
Our excursions strengthen your teaching frameworks and provide your students with an engaging, authentic and memorable learning experience. With minimal travel time, you can introduce your students to the wonders of the outdoors without disrupting school or home life.
The Outdoor Education Group offer a range of outcome-focused and themed single-day outdoor education excursions. For example:
Suitable for students of all ages, our excursions are thoughtfully designed single-day trips to local environments with proximity to your school. Our excursions are not disruptive to family life; they are conducted during school hours with students arriving at school and returning at their usual time.
Depending on your location and chosen theme, activities can include bushwalking, cycling, sea kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, group initiatives and more.
Consider embedding excursions as part of a sequential program - a series of challenge and age-appropriate programs enabling growth and development from one year to the next.
The Outdoor Education Group understand immersion in the outdoors is a brilliant way to improve student engagement and build strong relationships with others. Our excursions challenge your students in a supportive environment and inspire them to explore their own backyard.
Our excursions are available across Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia.