Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Christopher Bogiages


The specific problem of practice on which this study is focused is the lack of opportunities for students to engage in outdoor learning experiences (OLEs) and one contributing factor to this problem, the hesitance teachers demonstrate towards engaging their students and themselves in OLEs (Rickinson et al., 2004). The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper and more thorough understanding of the beliefs about outdoor learning experiences (OLEs) held by teachers in my context. An investigative action research design using the phenomenological approach was selected for this study as teacher beliefs are complex, and are best understood when participants are allowed to respond freely and provide multiple perspectives, if applicable (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018). Effective professional development (Darling-Hammond, Hyler, & Gardner, 2017), teacher beliefs (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2009), and situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991) theories are integrated to form the theoretical framework for this study as they assert that learning, specifically that which can change beliefs, is situated in activity (Thacker, 2015; Richardson, 2003; Clark & Hollingsworth, 2002). Implications for education practitioners (teachers, administrators, and informal outdoor and/or environmental educators) are discussed as increasing the amount of outdoor time available to youth is essential for ensuring proper development of cognitive functions, enhancing interpersonal skills such as leadership, as well as providing real-world context for concepts introduced in the classroom (Wirth & Rosenow, 2012).


© 2019, Kristin Elizabeth Peney