Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Powers, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Hyejung Chang

Committee Member

Dr. Mickey Lauria

Committee Member

Dr. Neil Calkin


Human beings, especially children, need natural environments and outdoor play for their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being (Louv, 2008). Even though parents and teachers recognize the value of outdoor play, schoolchildren spend a diminishing amount of time engaging in outdoor activities (Clements, 2004). Furthermore, addressing strict state learning standards is the first priority for schools. Outdoor activities are often seen as extracurricular to those subjects typically emphasized and tested. As a result, outdoor landscapes such as science gardens, playgrounds, and experiential classrooms are often underutilized, discouraged since they can take away from more important, standard forms of pedagogy. Thus, traditional academic expectations associated with test scores can conflict with outdoor learning and play, this conflict becomes major obstacles to the implementation and use of outdoor learning environments. However, Lieberman (1998) has shown that environment-based education (EBE) actually facilitates standardized achievement in subjects like math, language arts, and science if specific EBE curriculums are developed based on a school’s surrounding natural resources.

By borrowing from the EBE and other relevant learning theories, a new environmental design framework called landscape manipulatives (LM) is proposed. It explores the spatial and behavioral possibilities associated with learning. This study will look at how the design of LM can enhance student mathematics achievement in concepts like geometry and fractions.

The goal of this study is to help increase student achievement, particularly math scores, using LM. If successful, this new framework of LM will help environmental designers and educators create learning landscapes that are essential counterparts to traditional math education.



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