I enjoy being outdoors, even in unpleasant weather​ – students’ nature relatedness, by Mari Sandbakken and Anikke Hagen

The Norwegian framework plan for kindergarten emphasizes respect and care for nature, and existing opportunities for learning and overall development in nature (Bae,2018; Ministry of Education and Research, 2017). Norwegian early childhood education has a long tradition for being and working outdoors. It is therefore of pivotal importance that the early childhood teachers have enough knowledge on, and aware of their own attitudes towards nature and sustainability. 

The overall aim of this study is to develop teaching practices and engage outdoor learning methods for early childhood teacher education (ECTE) students in the context of nature relatedness. The teaching relates to courses at Oslo Metropolitan University, among them, the Erasmus course Play Movement Nature and Outdoor – Nordic Childhood in Early Childhood Education, the course Nature, Health and Movement, and the course Management Related to Nature, Health and Movement.

The teaching aims to give students skills and knowledge nature, health, and outdoor life related to childrens’ learning. The teaching highlights experiences with the nature, what lives there, experiences with natural phenomena, and identifying suitable places for physical, exciting, and curious play. 

The research question is: How can we develop our teaching practices and promote the students’ awareness of their relatedness to nature and choices they make in their everyday lives?

The first step in this study has been.

  • Online survey- The survey has been conducted at the beginning and end of the semester.
  • Statements’ game- during the semester

The online survey is based on the Nature Relatedness (NR) Scale (Nisbet at al., 2009), and aim to measure humans’ relationship with nature. In addition, the online survey entailed open ended questions about how students perceived the questions/ statements. Which of the statements they found difficult to address and which of the statements they found important to discuss in school or kindergarten? In the statement’ game the student discussed selected statements from the NR-scale. 

We will present preliminary results from the survey and the statement game and discuss students’ involvement in research as a teaching method. 

Practical session: Introduction of the statement/ dialog game

Statement game/ dialog game is a tool for reflection (Akre 2014).  In our research we have applied “the dialog game” to gather deeper understanding of the student’s reflection about their own nature relatedness. In addition, we wanted to try out this as a teaching tool to enhance the student’s reflection. 

In the group; -discuss the following statement, and give reason for your position. 

A 5. I always think about how my actions affect the environment. 

B: 11. Nothing I do will change problems in other places on the planet

C: 6. I enjoy digging in the earth and getting dirt on my hands. 

Difficult to address and which of the statements they found important to discuss in school or kindergarten? In the statement’ game the student discussed selected statements from the NR-scale.

We will present preliminary results from the survey and the statement game and discuss students’ involvement in research as a teaching method. 

Mari Sandbakken Associate, Professor

Anikke Hagen Associate, Professor

Contribution from; Synnøve Smebye Botnen, Associate Professor, and Anne Kristine Byhring Associate Professor

Department of Early childhood education 

Faculty of Education and International Studies 

Oslo Metropolitan University



Categories: Conferences, Movement/Play/Health/Outdoor, Vienna 2022

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