Transformative Learning through Restorative and Social Justice Education – Revised Edition
Chapter 2. Heading West: Hands-on Learning and Outdoor Education Increases Student Motivation
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Hands-on Learning and Outdoor Education Increases Student Motivation
Over the course of the five separate Westward Bound summer school courses, hands-on learning and living within a natural setting were key elements of our program. In this chapter, I will provide a brief history and rationale for the inclusion of these elements. Using qualitative research methods, such as in-depth interviews during and after the course, as well as journal evidence, this study explores the following questions:
We begin by looking at the rationale, research, and experiences that guided our decision to include hands-on learning and experiences in nature as essential components of our program.
When Angel Salathe and I began planning our first trip, we wanted to focus on providing unique learning experiences for our students outside the traditional four walls of our classrooms. We agreed with current researchers who state that integrating authentic learning that is hands-on and minds-on makes learning more interesting (Smolleck, 2008). In regards to the “hands-on ← 17 | 18 →learning ” aspects of our program, Angel, Randy, and I were influenced by theories of progressive education, outdoor education, and environmental education.
Learning by experience is often tied to the work of John Dewey and his theory of progressive education (Smith, Roland, Havens, & Hoyt, 1992). Kneller (1971) developed a list of lessons from Dewey ’s progressivism. The following lessons were present in the building of our program:
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