Learning biology and mathematics outdoors: effects and attitudes in a Swedish high school context

Emilia Fagerstam, Jonas Blom

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    This research suggests that learning biology in an outdoor environment has a positive cognitive and affective impact on 13-15-year-old, Swedish high school pupils. Eighty-five pupils in four classes participated in a quasi-experimental design. Half the pupils, taking a biology course in ecology or diversity of life, had several lessons outdoors and the other half were taught indoors. All of the classes, but one, also had mathematics lessons outdoors once a week. Twenty-one pupils were interviewed five months after the course and all were positive towards the new learning environment they had experienced outdoors in biology and/or mathematics. They also valued the higher degree of interaction among the pupils. Other findings from the interviews were that the pupils from the outdoor classes showed a higher degree of long-term knowledge retention. They remembered both activities and contents better than the pupils in the indoor classes. An essay-type question assessing their biological understanding qualitatively according to the Structure of Observed Learning Outcome taxonomy revealed no differences between the groups. The results are discussed in the light of neurocognitive models of long-term memory.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-75
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Biology
    • High school
    • Outdoor learning
    • School ground


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