Demonstrating the benefits of outdoor programs: exploring complexity

Dr Ian Williams

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute


Most outdoor educators have witnessed first hand the many ways that young people can benefit from outdoor programs and camps. However, there is increasing demand for schools and providers to demonstrate that their outdoor programs are effective – to provide evidence that they work. We set out to design a high quality study to capture evidence of key benefits, but what we found was quite unexpected.

Conducted by the Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance (OYPRA), with support from the Australian Federal Government, this project involved collaboration between 12 partner organisations across education, health, government, and outdoor industry sectors.

In this session we will present first findings from a three-year study involving year 9 students from two Victorian secondary schools. Over 300 young people were recruited into the study, and took part in either a 7-day outdoor program (including both hard-top and journey elements) or a control group. Participants completed surveys on five occasions (twice before and three times following camp), with program leaders and classroom teachers also completing supplementary surveys. Student surveys focused on psychological wellbeing, emotional difficulties, social relationships, and nature connectedness. We will share initial findings from our study and explore why the story of camp benefits is more complex than many of us might think.

Better understanding academic publishing: Authoring, reviewing and everything else besides.

A/Prof. John Quay1

1University Of Melbourne


Academic publishing is a central function of an academic career. In this session we shall discuss how academic publishing works: how to write for a journal, how to review for a journal. Important will be audience contributions about how academic publishing – writing and/or reading – is supported at universities and other education institutions. We shall also discuss academic publishing more broadly, building on recent experience here in Australia. A few years ago the Australian Journal of Outdoor Education transitioned to become the Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education. In 2018 the journal, supported by OEA, takes another step in its evolution, partnering with Springer Nature, a global academic publishing house. What does this mean for academics in Australia and in other places? Please attend this session to both learn about and contribute to discussion on academic publishing in outdoor education and related fields.


John has worked at the University of Melbourne since 2000. Before this he worked at St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School in Warragul, Victoria; and before this at OEG. His teaching and research stem from his belief in the importance of learning from outdoor education so as to improve schooling and understandings of education itself.

Imagining possibilities in outdoor environmental education

Pip Morse

La Trobe University


There is a recognition that ecologies on this planet are in trouble – and that if change is going to occur then education needs to be at the heart of these endeavours. Imagination has the potential to play a pivotal role in such educational work because it is not only intimately entwined with knowledge generation but also offers possibilities for imagining different ways of being in the world; potentially providing space for alternative perspectives and ways of interacting to emerge.

To highlight possibilities for imagination in outdoor environmental education I adopt a posthuman lens. By doing so I deliberately set out to consider how imagination might contribute towards environmental education practices in ways that de-center human beings and respond to ideas of human exceptionalism. I discuss a practical example that involves pre-service teachers, primary-school students and a particular place with more-than-human beings during a 3-day outdoor education program at Kooyoora National Park in Victoria.


Pip Morse is a Lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Education at La Trobe University, Bendigo, where her passion is providing pre-service teachers with practical ways of approaching outdoor learning in a variety of contexts. Pip has taught in a range of schools in Tasmania and she is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Tasmania focussed on place-based education, imagination and posthuman approaches to environmental education.

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