Students at the seashore: The effects of a visit to a coastal park on well-being and place meaning
Gannett, Anna Theresa
Today’s youth face complex challenges at the individual level (e.g. bullying, academic pressure) and the societal level (e.g. climate change, drug abuse). Children’s engagement with outdoor environments may help to increase capacity to deal with these challenges by improving emotional health, building social connections, and developing a stronger sense of place. This study aims to understand how an overnight experience at a coastal nature camp contributes to 5th-graders’ emotional health, social health, and place meaning. Two studies were conducted in tandem. In Study 1, a pre-post research design was used to compare the nature camp experience to the classroom environment at two schools. Quantitative results showed that mental and social well-being were improved by the nature camp for students at one of the schools. No improvements were observed at the other school. In Study 2, photo-elicitation was used to evaluate place meaning of the nature camp experience. Photo categorization revealed biophysical and sociocultural features of the nature camp had significance for students. This study has implications for experiential environmental education programming for youth.
children; greenspace; health; nature; parks
Wells, Nancy M.
Stedman, Richard Clark
Design and Environmental Analysis
M.S., Design and Environmental Analysis
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis