Strategic Research Groups Round Up of Recent Research, Policy and Practice - December 2016

Purpose: round up of recent and relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items. This supports the Strategic Research Groups for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.

Key audience: Strategic Research Group members and increasingly colleagues across policy and delivery sectors too.

Collated and issued by the partnership of Natural England, The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and Historic England on behalf of and for the Strategic Research Groups.

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Please also contact Martin if you would like more information on the Strategic Research Groups or would like advice from them.

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Natural Environment and People evidence round up – December 2016
Welcome to the latest round up of information for December. Contributions featuring members of the SRGs are highlighted in green below.

We are conscious that this is a long document as we have attempted to capture a wide range of information that may be of interest. As always we would welcome your feedback on whether this is useful as a way of sharing information or whether it duplicates something that already exists?  Any suggestions for improvements are welcome. 

If you have your own work or others that would be of interest please do send it to Martin Gilchrist, at any time for inclusion in the next round up.

Many thanks
Martin Gilchrist, Sarah Preston and Anne Hunt   

This round up has the following sections

RESOURCES (including blogs)


WHO report: Urban green spaces and health – a review of evidence (2016)
Including section authored by Catharine Ward Thompson
A new WHO report summarizing evidence on the health effects of green space in urban areas shows that green spaces offer numerous public health benefits, including psychological relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced physical activity and a potential reduction in exposure to – among other harmful urban factors – air pollution, noise and excessive heat.
A special edition of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) Journal: Healthy Planning – Securing Outcomes from United Action.
Co-edited by Carl Petrokofsky.
This is the second special edition on health and planning which Public Health England has supported along with a number of other joint publications in partnership with the TCPA.  This edition is available to non-members in order to ensure that it is accessible to a broad community of planners as well as other interested stakeholders, especially local public health teams.
How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway
MingKuo. Frontiers in Psychology
This article offers: (1) a compilation of plausible pathways between nature and health; (2) criteria for identifying a possible central pathway; and (3) one promising candidate for a central pathway.
Joy and Calm: How an Evolutionary Functional Model of Affect Regulation Informs Positive Emotions in Nature
Miles Richardson et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science
Shows how time in nature regulates emotions and the heart, applying a model that hasn’t been used in this context before. Miles’ blog explains further.
Greener cities and more exercise could dramatically reduce urban mortality rates
European Commission
Researchers have estimated that, annually, almost 3 000 deaths (i.e. 20% of mortality) in Barcelona, Spain, are premature, and would be preventable if residents lived in urban environments that met international exposure recommendations for physical activity, air pollution, noise, heat and access to green spaces.
British children are among the least active in the world, according to report cards drawn up by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance
The report was produced for 38 countries in six continents, presented to the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok and published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. For each of nine dimensions it gives a score from A to F in quintile bands (so A is 'we are succeeding with over 80% of children and young people', while F is less than 20%).  For overall physical activity, England scores D- while the average was D.  Scotland was on the lowest grade of F.  In 2014, England scored C-D.  Common to the most active countries were cultural norms, so being active was not a choice but a way of life.
Levels and patterns of physical activity and sedentary time among superdiverse adolescents in East London: a cross-sectional study.
Curry WB, Dagkas S, Wilson M. Ethnicity and health
Little is known about the physical activity (PA) and sedentary time (ST) habits of adolescents from superdiverse communities in the UK. The objectives of this study are to examine and report the patterns of PA/ST among adolescents in East London living in superdiverse communities. Findings support the need for more sex-specific and culturally responsive pedagogy in schools with curricula that respects diversity and individuality and has meaning and value amongst superdiverse young people.
Newham's Every Child a Sports Person (NECaSP): A Summative Process Evaluation of a School- and Community- Based Intervention in East London, United Kingdom.
Curry WB, Dagkas S, Wilson M. Journal of Physical Activity and Health
The Newman's Every Child a Sports Person (NECaSP) intervention aspires to increase sport and physical activity (PA) participation among young people in the United Kingdom. The aims of this article are to report on a summative process evaluation of the NECaSP and make recommendations for future interventions. Data highlighted the need to engage parents to increase the likelihood of intervention success.
IDOX Health paper ‘Improving the Health of a Nation & the Olympic Legacy’
This paper looks at the measures the Government and public sport and health organisations are taking to ensure that there is a long-term strategy in place to help improve the health of the nation through physical activity; and how sport and health strategies are re-focusing to ensure that major sporting event legacies extend beyond the gold-medallists of the future.
A critical view into pupils' experience of Education Outside the Classroom (EotC) and Well-being
AH Jensen et al- 7th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, 2016
There is a lack of research on pupils’ own assessment of their subjective well-being, as an indication of how pupils perceive EotC. Five academically strong and five academically challenged pupils were sampled on the basis of their test results in reading and math. This study is still in process, but based on the few studies investigating well-being in outdoor learning environment, we expect that EOtC is positively experienced among all pupils corresponding with greater well-being. However, we could also expect that among academically challenged pupils, a more unstructured activity based learning environment may lead to reduced well-being, which could also count for academically strong pupils seeing EOtC as a distraction or waste of time.
The Possibilities of “Doing” Outdoor and/or Adventure Education in Physical Education/Teacher Education
S Sutherland, M Legge - Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 2016
Physical education has a long association with teaching outdoor and/or adventure education (OAE). This manuscript; explores and critiques a range of national and international perspectives on models based practices in OAE; challenges what stands for teaching OAE in PETE; and offers suggestions for future practice and research.
Moderating role of resilience in the relationship between grit and psychological well-being
M Vinothkumar, N Prasad - International Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry, 2016
The study focuses on the relationship between, Grit, Resilience and Psychological Wellbeing and finds the moderating role of Resilience in the relationship between Grit and Psychological Wellbeing. Results showed a significant positive relation between all the variables, Resilience, Grit and Psychological Wellbeing and Resilience seemed to have no significant moderating role in the relationship between dependent variable Grit and independent variable Psychological Wellbeing.
Elemental Play and Outdoor Learning: Young children's playful connections with people, places and things
A Woods – Book 2016
Providing a fresh approach to examining development in the early years, this book draws together well-established ideas and theories based on outdoor play experiences and connects them to spiritual development in children
Taking the First Steps Outside: Under threes learning and developing in the natural environment
H Bilton, G Bento, G Dias – Book 2016
Can one be too young to play outside? This unique and compelling book charts the
experiences of a group of under-three-year-olds as they explore their natural outdoor
environment, followed by caring and attentive adults
Early intervention providers' experiences and perceptions of natural environments
KM Stimpson – Thesis 2016
Misunderstanding of the term natural environment has led to early intervention providers having varied perceptions of natural environments as well as their professional role in these natural environments. Additionally, early intervention providers have varied educational backgrounds, experiences, and training that can affect their perceptions of natural environments. The purpose of of this study was to examine early intervention providers’ experiences and perceptions related to natural environments. Results suggested providers have concerns related to a clear definition of natural learning environments. Furthermore, the findings indicated that professionals have a desire to provide services in natural learning environments, but numerous challenges were identified within implementation of services.
A quasi-experimental cross-disciplinary evaluation of the impacts of education outside the classroom on pupils’ physical activity, well-being and learning: the TEACHOUT study protocol
Nelsen Et al.  BMC Public Health
Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) is a teaching method that aims to promote schoolchildren's learning, physical activity (PA), social relations, motivation, and well-being. The TEACHOUT study aims to evaluate the impacts of EOTC on Danish schoolchildren's PA, social relations, motivation, well-being, and learning.
Using Images to Capture Faculty's Beliefs about Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care Settings
M Blom, M D'Amico - Journal of Studies in Education, 2016
Findings are presented from a qualitative research study that used photo-elicitation methods to explore faculty members’ beliefs about play and learning for children in Early Childhood Education and Care environments when teaching preservice early childhood educators in recognized post-secondary Early Childhood Education programs in Canada. Participants believe that play is a vehicle for learning, advocate for children’s free play in Early Childhood Education and Care settings as well as express concerns about the decline of play in children’s lives.
Mutual Impacts of Geocaching and Natural Environment
J Schneider et al - Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis. 2016
The rising popularity of geocaching is linked to increased risk of negative impacts on natural environment. Based on that, this paper intends to present possible approach of how to evaluate these impacts in the Landscape protected area Moravian Karst (Czech Republic) and in the Vrátna Dolina valley (National Park Malá Fatra, Slovak Republic).
Using Mobile Technology to Engage Children With Nature
MR Crawford, MD Holder, BP O'Connor - Environment and Behavior, 2016
The efficacy of a mobile application to increase connectedness to nature and impart flora/fauna/ecological knowledge was assessed in 747 children in three separate and distinctive parks: a wetland, a prairie grassland, and an indoor tropical garden. Results showed that the mobile application was just as effective at connecting children to nature as more traditional ways of non-formal environmental education, but the mobile application offered additional benefits such as higher ratings of fun.

Recreational Use of the Countryside: No Evidence that High Nature Value Enhances a Key Ecosystem Service
Karen Hornigold , Iain Lake , Paul Dolman. Plos ONE
This is the first study to model outdoor recreation at a national scale, examining habitat preferences with statutory designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest) as an indicator of nature conservation importance. Models were based on MENE data. Recreationists preferred areas of coast, freshwater, broadleaved woodland and higher densities of footpaths and avoided arable, coniferous woodland and lowland heath. Although conservation designation offers similar or greater public access than undesignated areas of the same habitat, statutory designation decreased the probability of visitation to coastal and freshwater sites and gave no effect for broadleaved woodland.
What kind of landscape management can counteract the extinction of experience?
A Colléony, AC Prévot, M Saint Jalme, S Clayton - Landscape and Urban Planning, 2017
Landscape management could play a prominent role in providing opportunities and motivation for people to be in nature. It is important, therefore, to understand which kinds of nature people mostly prefer and use. People cited a wide range of natural areas and five types predominated, consistently for all samples surveyed. Interestingly, connectedness with nature was negatively related to mentions of place specificity, but positively related to frequency of visits of natural areas.
Greener on the Other Side Cultivating Community and Improvement Through Sustainability Practices
WL Sterrett, L Kensler, T McKey - Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 2016
Sustainability practices that lead to greener schools are often overlooked in leadership preparation programs and in school improvement efforts. An urban middle school principal recognizes the potential to build community, foster a healthy learning environment, and redefine her school through focusing on sustainability practices in a collaborative manner.
Learning for Life and Educational Services
M Everard – 2016 chapter in The Wetland Book
From the fringes of oceans and major rivers and lakes to the smallest of urban pools, wetlands offer a wide range of educational opportunities. These span multiple forms of learning, ranging from formal educational centers at or relating to wetlands through to informal learning opportunities afforded by proximity to wetlands.
Geoscience education
Editor Clara Vasconcelos - book
This book presents research in Geoscience Education focusing on indoor and outdoor environments in which teaching geoscience gains particular relevance, significance and contextualization. The research areas that are presented throughout the thirteen chapters cover a wide variety of subjects ranging from educational resources and fieldwork to science models. Chapters discuss specific geoscience topics such as earthquakes, rocks, fossils and minerals. Other chapters present a more interdisciplinary approach addressing topics that aren’t usually examined, such as geomedicine and geoethics, with a specific focus on sustainable development and their alignment with the school curricula.
Investigation of the Interaction between Ethnic Identity and Relationship to Nature
D Sebree Jr – Dissertation 2016
Dialogue concerning African-American perceptions of connectedness to nature has not been addressed in environmental discourse. The current study sought to explore this phenomenon as a means to promote health and address this disparity.
Trusting the Journey Embracing the Unpredictable and Difficult to Measure Nature of Wilderness Educational Expeditions
M Asfeldt, S Beames - Journal of Experiential Education, 2016
Outdoor adventure education (OAE) research has long aimed to explain and understand the inner workings of its programs. However, many questions remain, and the search for sharper methodological tools with which to deepen our understanding of OAE continues. This article is a collaborative autoethnographic investigation of the unpredictable and difficult to measure nature of wilderness educational expeditions (WEEs). The findings indicate that conventional approaches to WEE research are limited in their capacity to fully understand and explain the inner workings of WEEs. We argue that practitioners need to “trust the journey” to elicit learning that comes from responding to encounters with people and place. Furthermore, we suggest that quests for a sequenced “journey recipe” are unrealistic and do not honor the philosophical and pedagogical foundations of OAE.
The Dialectical Utility of Heuristic Processing in Outdoor Adventure Education
CAB Zajchowski, MTJ Brownlee, NN Furman - Journal of Outdoor Recreation, 2016
Heuristics—cognitive shortcuts used in decision-making events—have been paradoxically praised for their contribution to decision-making efficiency and prosecuted for their contribution to decision-making error. Recent research in outdoor adventure education (OAE) using the heuristic concept to diagnose field based decision-making errors has ignored this duality, focusing solely on the negative potential of heuristic processing. Using a dialectical method, the authors interrogate the dominant, negativistic interpretation of heuristic processing as well as illustrate the common uses of heuristics in risk management curricula within outdoor pursuits. In the resulting synthesis, the authors show that a symptom-prescription view of heuristic duality can reclaim the utility of heuristics as decision-making aids.
A case study on experiential learning and character development at one preparatory military academy
NL Wade – Dissertation 2016
A qualitative case study over a seven-month period gave voice to 26 cadets, in an otherwise compliant based-environment, on how they learned about their character development during their outdoor experiential learning program. Data revealed how the instructor, the program design, and the setting were factors that influenced cadets to transfer character learning to their inner lives.

Proceedings of the 2016 Symposium on Experiential Education Research
Including abstracts / papers on
Two Ways to Count Your Change: An Exploratory Investigation of Retrospective Pre and True Pre. W. Brad Faircloth & Andrew J. Bobilya
Exploring an Emerging Line of Research: Brain Wave Activity and Outdoor Experience Brad Daniel & Brad Faircloth
Emotional Intelligence, Personality and Leadership in Outdoor Adventure Education Facilitators - A Three Dimensional Model. Jule Hildmann & Pete Higgins
Learning Transfer of Recreational Rock Climbers: An Exploratory Model. Andrew Bailey & Eric Hungenberg
Qualities of the Adventure Education Experience. Benjamin Ingman
Archaeology Fairs and Community-Based Approaches to Heritage Education
B Thomas, MA Langlitz - Advances in Archaeological Practice, 2016
In this article, the authors discuss how the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) fair model was developed through feedback cycles that include evaluation, data analysis, reflection, and trial and error; how it evolved; and how it is spreading to other groups around the world. This growth in popularity and implementation presents us with unique opportunities to collect and reflect upon data essential to conducting archaeological outreach around the globe.
Heritage in action,
Silverman et al - book
In this textbook we see heritage in action in indigenous and vernacular communities, in urban development and regeneration schemes, in expressions of community, in acts of nostalgia and memorialization and counteracts of forgetting, in museums and other spaces of representation, in tourism, in the offices of those making public policy, and in the politics of identity and claims toward cultural property.
Co-creating intangible cultural heritage by crowd-mapping: The case of mappi [na]
G Concilio, I Vitellio - Research and Technologies for Society and Industry leveraging a better tomorrow. 2016
This article explores the potentials of crowd mapping as a co-creation process of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). It starts from describing the concept and the relevance of the ICH concept; in the second part it explores crowd mapping as a potential environment supporting and facilitating ICH co-creation. The experience of mappi[na] is later described to show how these environments can work: some examples of ICH co-productions dynamics are reported and analysed. Finally some conclusions are driven and some research paths identified.

RESOURCES (including blogs)
Sport England have recently released a number of resources based on their learning so far which they recommend partners consider, alongside existing guidance and learning from other organisations when developing interventions which aim to tackle inactivity. Tackling inactivity is one of the key areas of work that underpins their new strategy Towards an Active Nation.

House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee published oral evidence from the 14 November session about its inquiry into public parks. Evidence in the afternoon (from section Q90) was given by Dr Katy Layton-Jones (The Gardens Trust), Merrick Denton-Thompson OBE (President, Landscape Institute), Julia Thrift (Projects and Operations Director, Town and Country Planning Association) and James Harris (Policy and Networks Manager, Royal Town Planning Institute).
Landscape Institute recently published its position statement on ‘Public Health and Landscape; creating healthy places’. It mentions five principles of healthy places: “Healthy places improve air, water and soil quality, incorporating measures that help us adapt to, and where possible mitigate, climate change; Healthy places help overcome health inequalities and can promote healthy lifestyles; Healthy places make people feel comfortable and at ease, increasing social interaction and reducing anti-social behaviour, isolation and stress; Healthy places optimise opportunities for working, learning and development; Healthy places are restorative, uplifting and healing for both physical and mental health conditions.”
Public Health England Programme Director on Sustainability for Public Health Benefits Stephen Morton recently blogged about “Green space, mental wellbeing and sustainable communities”. He said: “We’ve known for some time that good quality natural landscape in urban areas can affect how people feel. It reduces stress and sadness, lifts the mood and makes us feel better. The benefits of these green and blues space, and the mechanisms by which they work, are varied….’
Guidance on effective interventions to promote healthy behaviours and cognitive health for older adults has been published by Public Health England.

The slides from the Communicate 2016 Conference are now available to download including notes from Real World Visuals' data visualisation session and The Next Generation.

The Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP) project  have published their A-Z of co-design.
Co-design, or participatory design, is about the meaningful involvement of end users in the design process. The MMP project explores how places can be designed collaboratively to make older people’s experience of the environment easier and more meaningful.
Led by Catherine Ward-Thompson


European Insitutute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE)
Seminar:  Wednesday 28th June to Sunday 2nd July 2017
University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth,
Outdoor Atmospheres and Narratives: Connecting people to the world. Abstracts for oral and poster presentations, and practical workshops are now being accepted for
EOE2017. Presentations and workshops from various disciplinary angles, across the themes, are
welcome from researchers, practitioners and graduate students.
Mental Health: Forward Thinking
The Implementation Plan. The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
March 16, 2017 @ 8:30 am - 4:45 pm
A major transformation programme for mental health is underway, an unprecedented and decisive step towards closing the treatment gap for mental health. The roadmap for change ‘Implementing the Five Year Forward View’ sets out how services will help reach a million more people a year by 2020/21. So how do we make the plans a reality? The fourth annual Mental Health conference will support NHS staff, organisations and other parts of the system in delivering the changes required to improve mental health care for all.


The Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health will take place on 13–15 June 2017 in Ostrava, Czechia. It will bring together health and environment ministers and high-level representatives of Member States in the WHO European Region, partner organizations, academia and civil society. Member States are expected to adopt a ministerial declaration, an implementation plan for its commitments and a reformed governance mechanism for the European Environment and Health Process.
Guardian article on public health and walking
Countryside Classroom have released releasing the latest survey they commissioned on behalf of all project partners. The research focussed on non-users of the resource to find out what they teach and what would make them more likely to engage.
Canal & River Trust (CRT) and People’s Postcode Lottery launched a competition inviting primary schools to design a habitat for wildlife “inspired by those found along the nation’s network of canals and rivers”. CRT said the competition, called ‘Corridor for Nature’, will help children to understand the importance of canals and rivers in providing vital habitats for nature. “Pupils will be encouraged to venture outside to survey the school grounds and maybe take inspiration from a visit to their local canal or river. They’ll then use their findings to design a waterway-inspired habitat. They can suggest themes for water and wet areas, make recommendations for wild flowers and hedgerows or design small structures for nesting animals.”
Link to a BBC article on a report that whilst Scotland has some of the best environments for outdoor play the children are some of the least active in the countries studied, reinforcing that the challenge is not just about availability. 
Australian Broadcasting Corporation feature on Nature schools where children learn by roaming in the wild growing in popularity

Sport England is launching two new funding streams in January:
  • Opportunity Fund - £3 million for projects that create volunteering opportunities for black, Asian and minority ethnic people, women and disabled people, reaching into communities where there is higher unemployment and crime, lower education and poorer health.
  • Potentials Fund - support for volunteering opportunities for young people. Sport England will work with the #iwill campaign, investing up to £3m in projects which benefit 10 to 20-year-olds and their communities.
Copyright © 2016 Natural England, All rights reserved.

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