Promoting the Use of Outdoor Learning Spaces by K-12 Inservice Science Teachers Through an Outdoor Professional Development Experience

  • Mark A. BloomEmail author
  • Molly Holden
  • April T. Sawey
  • Molly H. Weinburgh


This chapter describes the efforts of a team of professional development (PD) providers as they worked with K-12 science teachers to promote the use of outdoor learning spaces (OLS) in their instructional practices. Eighteen elementary and 18 secondary teachers participated in the PD. Prior to the experience, the teachers were asked to describe the obstacles and challenges they faced in using outdoor spaces to teach. Throughout the 2-week PD, the teachers were exposed to outdoor science content instruction in a variety of OLS ranging from urban settings with manicured lawns to remote, natural settings (including two overnight learning experiences). Emphasis was placed on the diversity of wildlife (particularly insects), abiotic factors (i.e. soil, topography), and field sampling techniques. Teacher talk provided an opportunity to listen to the concerns that teachers felt when they envisioned using outdoor spaces to teach, as well as a chance for solutions to their concerns to be put forth. At the conclusion of 2 weeks, the teachers were asked to discuss their concerns and specifically address the challenges and obstacles that they reported at the beginning of the PD to determine the effectiveness of the experience in empowering them to use outdoor spaces to teach. Variable results were observed. Elementary teachers exhibited far fewer concerns about using OLS prior to the experience and were also able to provide solutions to obstacles and challenges they faced. Secondary teachers reported far more obstacles and challenges both before and after the PD. Challenges and obstacles that were most persistent are described and several continua are presented to inform PD providers who strive to promote the use of OLS by K-12 teachers.


Professional Development Science Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge Elementary Teacher Classroom Management 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Bloom
    • 1
    Email author
  • Molly Holden
    • 1
  • April T. Sawey
    • 1
  • Molly H. Weinburgh
    • 1
  1. 1.Andrews Institute of Mathematics & Science EducationTexas Christian University, TCUFort WorthUSA

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