Get out of the way and let nature weave her magic

Tonia Gray, Son Truong, Danielle Tracey, Kumara Ward

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The ubiquitous phenomenon of ‘impact’ is one of the hauntings of outdoor education, especially when assessing impact within the school curriculum. A specialist school for students with behavioural and emotional needs in Australia has implemented Outdoor Learning (OL) to engage at-risk students. This research project examined the impact of the twinned disciplines of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) when innovatively applied to complement OL. ACT is a behavioural change approach founded on the principles of positive psychology. Our research investigated whether an eight-week ACT intervention specifically designed and delivered within OL program can enhance the emotional, social and behavioural wellbeing of Year 5 and 6 students. Impact was determined by pre/posttest standardised scales, observations, and interviews. Additionally, post interviews were conducted with students and teachers to triangulate the data. The study culminated with the students’ narratives being co-generated into a creative artwork with an Indigenous Elder three months post-intervention. The results highlight new synergies between targeted behavioural change programs and OL for at-risk student groups, and inform how ACT and OL can be delivered in a collaborative and complementary fashion to effect positive change for students with challenging behaviours. Our paper specifically examines students’ narratives and the collaborative artmaking process where they visually represented their experiences in the outdoor ACT intervention and by creating an enduring artefact for their school.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Outdoor Education Conference 2017
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Abstracts
EditorsMark Leather
Place of PublicationPlymouth
PublisherPlymouth Marjon University
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978099555996
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017


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