The impact of outdoor education on executive function in adolescents

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McKenzie, Jared Patrick
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education.
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
This mixed-methods study investigated the nature of the impact of a multi-day outdoor education camp on the executive functions of sixth grade students (n = 29) in Alberta, Canada. The participants demonstrated statistically significantly improved reaction time in four of seven trials, and statistically significantly improved accuracy in three of eight trials, after camp. There were no statistically significant differences in either measure in a third round of testing approximately one month later. The improvements were not linked to parental education, previous experiences, or scores on the Amsterdam Executive Function Inventory. As well, eight participants were interviewed about their experiences. Three themes emerged from this analysis: the perceptions of learning, the importance of physical comforts, and the outdoors as a source of wildness. Here, I argue that these impacts to executive functions are linked to the three themes above, suggesting that elements of outdoor education can indirectly support executive functions.
education , executive functions , outdoor education