Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Robert Powell

Committee Member

Dr. Marc Stern

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Browning


Environmental education (EE) field trip programs in the United States often take place in outdoor, natural settings. Such natural environments provide ample opportunity for hands-on and immersive learning to occur, which may allow for positive cognitive and moral development in children. However, recent research on the impact of more natural settings on youths’ academic success has produced mixed outcomes, suggesting that the relationship between levels of naturalness and student success is more complex than previously assumed. Utilizing student surveys collected during 283 EE field trip programs and remotely sensed land cover data, this study examines the relationship between levels of naturalness and student learning outcomes for students in grades 5-8. This study also examined whether differences in levels of naturalness between students’ day-to-day environment and the field trip setting influences student learning outcomes while also controlling for grade level, race of participants, and socioeconomic status (SES). Findings indicate a significant, positive relationship between levels of naturalness and positive student learning outcomes during EE field trip programming. Additionally, novel levels of naturalness also had a positive relationship with student learning outcomes. However, only a small percentage of variance is explained by these two variables, suggesting that many other EE field trip program characteristics likely drive positive student outcomes.



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