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Friday 14 August 2015

Should the classroom be inside or out?

BA (Hons) Adventure and Outdoor Management senior lecturer and course leader Lynsey Melhuish has been researching the impact of learning outside the classroom. We take a closer look into Lynsey’s research…

Senior lecturer and course leader Lynsey Melhuish

Lynsey‘s original research began in 2010 with a case study exploration into how schools and colleges engage with the ‘great outdoors’ – using it to enhance both learning and development (personal, social and physical) in children and young people.

Over the last few years Lynsey has been developing concepts relating to her research with schools and outdoor practitioners. The ‘sparkling or still’ concept was first published in the Institute for Outdoor Learning’s magazine Horizons in June 2014, and explored observations found during research on the planning, delivery and evaluation of learning outside the classroom, and its influence on informal or formal learning.

One key observation from Lynsey’s research was how primary school children on a trip to a country park were like ‘exploding bubbles’ when they left the coach and embarked on their outdoor adventure.

‘Sparkling or still’ refers to whether schools and outdoor practitioners should focus on one of two different ways of learning outside the classroom: a structured/controlled and measurable way of learning (the more formal ‘still’ option), or ‘spontaneous play and exploration which is more free-flowing and organic in delivery’ (the ‘sparkling’ option).

Sparkling or still?

This concept was pursued further in March 2015 in ‘Bubbles and Bartenders’, an article published in the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE) journal Primary First, asking who is best placed to deliver learning outside the classroom – school teachers or outdoor practitioners?

Lynsey has facilitated workshops on the topic for the Institute for Outdoor Learning’s National Conference earlier in the academic year, ran a workshop at the Association for Physical Education National Conference in June, and presented at the Near and Far International Outdoor Learning Conference in July.

She’s keen to continue raising the profile of learning outside the classroom, reinforcing the importance of children and young people engaging with outdoor environments at a time when health, social and wellbeing issues among young people are beginning to draw national attention.

For more information on this and other research at Southampton Solent University, visit the research section of our website.