Effects of an Outdoor Education Programme on Creative Thinking and Well-being in Adolescent Boys

Abstract

We assessed the effects of an outdoor education programme (Tihoi) with no access to electronic media among 14 year-old boys. We compared creative thinking, socio-emotional wellbeing, and materialism with their peers attending regular classes at their normal school. Students at both locations were assessed in the second week of term and after 15 weeks. Boys in the Tihoi programme outperformed those in regular classes on a creative thinking task at both time points. Although the Tihoi group initially had lower scores on some well-being measures, they had small but significant improvements in wellbeing at 15 weeks, which were not observed among those attending normal school. No differences were observed for materialism. A programme of outdoor activity and reduced media exposure may improve creative thinking and wellbeing in adolescents. Encouraging adolescents to replace indoor time with outdoor activities is unlikely to cause persistent psychological harm and may be beneficial.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank St Paul’s Collegiate School Staff, particularly Cyn Smith, Jed Rowlands and Peter Hampton, as well as the year 10 students and their parents and guardians who supported this work. We would also like to thank the O’Donoghue family for their initial support of this project. This work was supported by a University of Otago Research Grant and an Oakley Mental Health Research Foundation Project Grant.

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Correspondence to Helena Margaret McAnally.

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McAnally, H.M., Robertson, L.A. & Hancox, R.J. Effects of an Outdoor Education Programme on Creative Thinking and Well-being in Adolescent Boys. NZ J Educ Stud 53, 241–255 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-018-0111-x

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Keywords

  • Outdoor education
  • Electronic media
  • Creative thinking
  • Wellbeing
  • Attention restoration theory