Growing little learners: enabling trainee teachers to support children's learning in primary science using the outdoors

Murphy, A., 2023. Growing little learners: enabling trainee teachers to support children's learning in primary science using the outdoors. EdD, Nottingham Trent University.

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This thesis explores the ways that outdoor learning is specifically conducive to the support and facilitation of primary science education. Whilst developing practice-led principles for trainee teachers and teachers new to outdoor learning pedagogies, it also challenges the perception of the use of the outdoors being less academic or "risky fun" (Glackin 2016, p.1). The thesis looks at science as being made accessible and meaningful through "getting more from getting out" (Scott and Boyd 2016, p.1). Additionally, by contrast to much of the literature on outdoor science that focuses on professional perceptions and confidence (Waite 2011; Glackin 2016; Harris 2017), this research reports on learning outcomes and the impact on children's attainment.

Across three case study schools, the frameworks from Bloom et al. (1956) and Jelly (1985) were used to support the design and analysis of an outdoor primary science learning matrix. The trainee teachers based in each of the three schools used the matrix to chart and reflect on the ways that children were 'thinking scientifically' through assessing the science learning in the outdoors.

The researcher's analysis of the data generated from interviews with the trainee teachers revealed that when learning science is based in the outdoors, young children are well-placed to demonstrate higher order thinking skills beyond those expected of them within end of Key Stage outcomes (GB.DfE 2013). Specifically, children were seen to develop a set of scientific dispositions involving thinking scientifically, behaving scientifically and questioning scientifically. As such, the trainee teachers used the matrix to foster scientific attitudes such as curiosity, seeking out evidence to support their thought processes and metacognitive aptitudes including reflection and taking ownership of their learning progression.

The researcher's analysis provides exemplification to support trainee teachers, teachers and leaders to understand progression and pitch outdoor learning expectations in ways that enable the setting of challenging individual targets in outdoor science (Ofsted 2011) in line with the end of Key Stage outcomes (GB.DfE 2013).

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Murphy, A.
Aiken, V.Thesis
Richards, R.Thesis
Date: 2023
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Institute of Education
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Oct 2023 09:02
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2024 11:14

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