Research & Articles

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Natural Childhood report (2012)
Evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in childrens relationship with the outdoors is overwhelming and urgent action is needed to bridge this growing gap before its too late, according to this National Trust report.

Author and TV producer Stephen Moss charts years of academic research and a steady stream of surveys on the subject, highlighting how a generation of children is finally losing touch with the natural world.

The report outlines a clear need to tackel the rise of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined by the US based writer Richard Louv, to describe a growing dislocation between children and nature.

The Common Cause Handbook (2011)
With support from Oxfam, WWF and Action for Children, the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) wrote the Common Cause handbook to summarise the relevant research on values and frames and its implications in a clear, concise and easily-digestible form.

The Handbook outlines what values are; how they relate to frames; why they are important in addressing major national and international problems; and how they change over time. It argues for more involving and participatory groups and organisations, and emphasises the importance of working together across different organisations to help foster more intrinsic values in society.

Every Child Outdoors (2010)
RSPBs Every Child Outdoors research draws together the findings from the wide range of research into the positive impacts contact with nature has for children, as well as the environment. These include the educational benefits, contributions to physical health and mental wellbeing, as well as development of personal and social skills.

It also explores some of the consequences of the reduction of such experiences and, sadly, the increasingly used term of Nature Deficit Disorder to describe the phenomenon.

Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity (2009)
This major publication, written jointly with Professor Tim Kasser (Knox College, Illinois, and author of The High Price of Materialism) examines those fundamental aspects of human identity that operate to frustrate approaches to meeting environmental challenges.

Download the whole WWF book here or click here for a pdf of the summary

LOtC Consultation: Should there be a Quality Badge for freelance providers working with young people outside the classroom? (2009)
The aim of this piece of work is to scope the potential for individual freelance practitioners to attain a Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge or sign up to a code of practice, which would reflect the criteria for the recently established Quality Badge for organisations.

Forest School: Evidence of Health Benefits in Young People in Scotland (2009)
This research explores whether forest setting can offer psychological benefits to adolescents.

In developing the strategy for Every Child Matters, the New Economics Foundation has suggested that natural environments can help promote mental well-being in young people but there is very little empirical evidence to support this link in the UK. Much of the research to date has been generated in the US suggesting natural settings can promote psychological restoration in children, particularly cognitive restoration. Restoration is a term that refers to the process of recovery from a depleted physiological, psychological and/or social resource.

In this research, the evidence base within a UK context is extended, specifically, to explore whether forest settings could offer psychological benefits to adolescents with varying emotional needs.

Physical Activity at Forest School (2009)
This research investigated the value of the outdoor learning programme Forest School as a source of school time physical activity.

Childhood and Nature: A Survey on Changing Relationships with Nature Across Generations (2009)
Although various studies have been done in different countries on the issues of the relative opportunity for children in England to play in a natural environment and take part in learning activities outside of school, few quantitative studies exist that measure the difference in England or the UK of the contact with nature between todays generation of primary school children and that which grew up 30 or 40 years ago.

Natural England commissioned England Marketing to undertake a survey to explore the difference in contact with nature between todays generation of children compared with the contact children from their parents generation had.

Research Summary 
A summary of papers about the benefits of Real World Learning, compiled by the partnership.



Steven Naughton

Web Manager at Real World Learning Scotland
Learning more everyday, from the wisdom of young and old.

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