An examination of the perceived barriers and motivations of preservice elementary-education majors regarding outdoor education
The primary purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the prospective teachers’ perceived barriers and motivations toward outdoor education in order to adapt a residential outdoor education experience suited to their needs. This was accomplished by administering a descriptive questionnaire to 96 elementary-education students enrolled in the second professional semester at Northern Illinois University. The questionnaire was divided into seven major categories to assess the perceived barriers and motivations of outdoor education as well as assess what the students enjoy doing in the outdoors. In addition, the questionnaire surveyed how much outdoor education experience the students had and to what degree they believed outdoor education should be integrated within the school curriculum. Mean values and percentages of data were calculated from the information generated from the students’ responses and illustrated. This study has confirmed some common patterns in outdoor education related to teacher education. Similar to past studies, it was found in this study that the prospective teachers worry about having limited personal knowledge of outdoor education. As well, the participants reported believing science and physical education were highly integrative subjects with outdoor education. But outdoor education is not just science to be taught outdoors or another subject to be added to the school curriculum. It is an interdisciplinary method of teaching that is an integral part of the learning process. Providing a teacher-education program which integrates outdoor education within the students’ method courses may lessen the students’ concern about having the knowledge of outdoor education and may provide the opportunities, resources, and ideas of using outdoor education in all subject matters.