Nature and scope of outdoor education in the city-state of Singapore
This study focuses on the analysis of collective meaning associated with secondary school-teachers’ and outdoor practitioners’ beliefs about the value of outdoor education in the city-state of Singapore. A phenomenographical approach was employed to map the qualitatively different ways in which people understand, perceive, or experience various aspects of outdoor education. By conducting in-depth interviews with school-teachers and outdoor practitioners (n=11), a range of beliefs about the value of outdoor education were revealed. Through a phenomenographic analysis framework, three conceptions were identified that detail the participants’ collective meanings of the value of outdoor education; namely (a) belief in the value of outdoor environments in providing affordances for authentic, realistic learning, (b) belief in its value in fostering social emotional growth, physical and mental robustness, and (c) belief in the value of outdoor education as preparation for students’ futures. A secondary research question considered the factors that influence the beliefs of the two sets of actors, teachers and outdoor practitioners, who are the focus of this study. The analysis and discussion focus on the context and meaning of the values ascribed to outdoor education as well as the factors that influenced the beliefs. The findings indicate that school-teachers and outdoor practitioners have strong beliefs about the value of outdoor education. This strong intrinsic belief is constructed through 'sense-making' of their own experiences in the outdoors. This suggests that there is value in investing in the continuing professional development of school-teachers and outdoor practitioners in their outdoor education practice, so that this increased capacity in their complementary roles can bring about the added value of outdoor education to students. Several recommendations for policy, practice as well as further research in the field are offered.