Experiences of Slovenian In-Service Primary School Teachers and Students of Grades 4 and 5 with Outdoor Lessons in the Subject Science and Technology

  • Maruša Novljan
  • Jerneja Pavlin
Keywords: outdoor lesson, primary school, the subject Science and Technology, teachers’ experiences, students’ experiences


The present paper presents the results of a survey on outdoor lessons conducted by teachers of the subject Science and Technology in the 4th and 5th grades of primary school in the school’s vicinity. It examines differences between teachers themselves and between teachers and students, as well as the ideas and limitations of outdoor lessons. The study included 70 in-service primary school teachers of the 4th and 5th grades and 154 students of the 4th grade and 151 students of the 5th grade of primary school. The data were obtained with two questionnaires: an e-questionnaire for teachers and a paper-pencil questionnaire for students. The results show that 13 per cent of teaching time in the subject Science and Technology consists of outdoor lessons. Statistically significant differences were found between teachers with different amounts of teaching experience, while differences in the quantity of outdoor lessons did not arise among teachers of different school strata and among teachers who had an early experience with outdoor lessons in the vicinity of school themselves as students compared to teachers who had no such experience. The teachers had several specific and general ideas for outdoor activities for the thematic sets of the Science and Technology curriculum and reported similar difficulties in planning outdoor lessons to those reported in other countries. The results of the research show that the teachers report the use of outdoor lessons in the vicinity of school more often than recalled by the students. The students reported that such activities typically take place about twice a year, mostly in playgrounds, meadows, and forests. The results provide an insight into the state of the teachers’ initiatives for outdoor lessons in the subject Science and Technology and indirectly offer opportunities to reflect and act on outdoor lessons from different perspectives.


Download data is not yet available.


Bank, J., & Greve, J. (2013). Children’s health-related life-styles: How parental child care affects them. University Press of Southern Denmark.

Barker, S., Slingsby, D. R., & Tilling, S. (2002). Teaching biology outside the classroom: Is it heading for extinction? A report on outdoor biology teaching in the 14–19 curriculum. Field Studies Council.

Beames, S., Higgins, P., & Nicol, R. (2012). Learning outside the classroom: Theory and guidelines for practice. Routledge.

Blatt, E., & Patrick, P. (2014). An exploration of pre-service teachers’ experiences in outdoor ‘places’ and intentions for teaching in the outdoors. International Journal of Science Education, 36(13), 2243–2264.

Bocks, S. (2018). 31 Days of Outdoor STEM activities for kids. https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/outdoor-stem-activities-science-kids/

Ceciliani, A., & Bortolotti, A. (2013). Outdoor motor play: Analysis, speculations, research paths. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 3(3), 65–86.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

DfES [Department for Education and Skills]. (2006). Learning outside the classroom: Manifesto.


Dnevi dejavnosti. (1998). Days of activities. https://www.gov.si/assets/ministrstva/MIZS/Dokumenti/Osnovna-sola/Ucni-nacrti/Drugi-konceptualni-dokumenti/Dnevi_dejavnosti.pdf

Education.com. (2012). Nature activities & nature experiments. https://www.education.com/activity/nature-activities/

English Outdoor Council. (n. d.). High Quality Outdoor Education. https://www.englishoutdoorcouncil.org/HQOE.pdf

Fiskum, T. A., & Jacobsen, K. (2012). Individual differences and possible effects from outdoor education: Long time and short time benefits. World Journal of Education, 2(4), 20–23.

Gilbertson, K., Bates, T., McLaughlin, T., & Ewert, A. (2006). Outdoor education: Methods and strategies. Human kinetics.

Gill, T. (2014). The benefits of children’s engagement with nature: A systematic literature review. Children, Youth and Environments, 24(2), 10–34.

Ginnis, P. (2002). The teacher’s toolkit: Raise classroom achievement with strategies for every learner. Crown House Publishing.

Gros, J., Marinčič, M., Komljanc, N., Brcar, P., Rusjan, N., Rudman, I., & Ajtnik, M. (2001). Šola v naravi za devetletno osnovno šolo. Koncept [The Concept of Outdoor School].


Hamid, K. (2018). Fun outdoor science lesson ideas for KS1. https://www.pentagonplay.co.uk/news-and-info/outdoor-science-lessons

Harlen, W., & Holroyd, C. (1997). Primary teachers’ understanding of concepts of science: Impact on confidence and teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 19(1), 93–105.

Hawley, T., & Gunner, M. (2000). Starting smart: How early experiences affect brain development. Ounce of Prevention Fund.

Jeronen, E., & Jeronen, J. (2012). Outdoor education in Finland. Current topic. Socioekonomické a humanitnì studie. Studies of Socio-Economic and Humanities, 2(2), 152–160.

Juriševič, M., Devetak, I., Razdevšek Pučko, C., & Glažar, S. A. (2008). Intrinsic motivation of pre‐service primary school teachers for learning chemistry in relation to their academic achievement. International Journal of Science Education, 30(2), 285–285.

Kinnunen, P., Lampiselkä, J., Meisalo., V., & Malmi, L. (2016). Research on teaching and learning in physics and chemistry in NorDiNa papers. Nordina: Nordic studies in science education, 12(1), 3–20.

Klofutar, Š., Jerman, J., & Torkar, G. (2020). Direct versus vicarious experiences for developing children’s skills of observation in early science education. International Journal of Early Years Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2020.1814214

Kolar, M., Krnel, D., & Velkavrh, A. (2011). Spoznavanje okolja. Učni načrt [Environmental studies. National curriculum]. Ministrstvo RS za šolstvo in šport, Zavod RS za šolstvo.

Laganis, J., Prosen, K., & Torkar, G. (2017). Classroom versus outdoor biology education using a woody species identification digital dichotomous key. Natural Sciences Education, 46(1), 1–9.

Lelliott, A., & Rollnick, M. (2010). Big ideas: A review of astronomy education research 1974–2008. International Journal of Science Education, 32(13), 1771–1799.

MacQuarrie, S. (2016). Everyday teaching and outdoor learning: Developing an integrated approach to support school-based provision. Education 3-13, 46(3), 345–361.

Malone, K. (2008). Every experience matters: An evidence based research report on the role of learning outside the classroom for children’s whole development from birth to eighteen years. Farming & Countryside Education.

MIZŠ [Ministry of Education, Science and Sport]. (2018). Education system in Slovenia.


Mygind, E. (2009). A comparison of children’s’ statements about social relations and teaching in the classroom and in the outdoor environment. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9(2), 151–169.

National Curriculum in England. (2013). GOV.UK. Science programmes of study.


Nicol, R., Higgins, P., Ross, H., & Mannion, G. (2007). Outdoor education in Scotland: A summary of recent research. Scottish Natural Heritage.

Outdoor Classroom Day. (2020). Lessons ideas. https://outdoorclassroomday.com/resources/lesson-ideas/

Pallant, J. (2011). SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS, 4th Edition. Allen & Unwin.

Pavlin, J., & Čepič, M. (2015). The education of pre-service primary school teachers for teaching the physics part of science in Slovenia. In F. Claudio & M. Sperandeo-Mineo (Eds.), Teaching/learning physics: integrating research into practice. GIREP - MPTL 2014 International Conference (pp. 137–144). http://www1.unipa.it/girep2014/proceedings/Chapter%202.pdf

Peacock, A., & Pratt, N. (2009). How young people respond to learning spaces outside school: A sociocultural perspective. Learning Environments Research, 14(1), 11–24.

Pečar, M., Anđić, D., Hergan, I., Skribe Dimec, D., & Pavlin, J. (2020). How to encourage children’s connectedness to nature by outdoor learning of children in Croatian and Slovenian schools?. In L. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, & I. Candel Torres (Eds.), EDULEARN20 (pp. 714–723). https://iated.org/edulearn/publications

Potočnik, R., & Devetak, I. (2018). The differences between pre-service chemistry, fine art, and primary education teachers regarding interest and knowledge about fine art materials. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 8(4), 109–130.

Rickinson, M., Dillon, J., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Young Choi, M., Sanders, D. et al. (2004). A review of research on outdoor learning. Field Studies Council.

Ross, H., Nicol, R., & Higgins, P. (2007). Outdoor study of nature: Teachers’ motivations and contexts. Scottish Educational Review, 39(2), 160–172.

Shume, T. J., & Blatt, E. (2019). A sociocultural investigation of pre-service teachers’ outdoor experiences and perceived obstacles to outdoor learning. Environmental Education Research, 25(9), 1–21.

Sjöblom, P., & Svens, M. (2019). Learning in the Finnish outdoor classroom: Students’ views. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(4) 301–314.

Skribe Dimec, D. (2019). Outdoor education in the Slovenian school system supports cultural and environmental education. In Zandvliet, D. B. (Ed.). Culture and environment: Weaving new connections (pp. 209–229). Brill Sense.

Skribe Dimec, D., & Kokalj, I. (2018). The development and role of outdoor education and CŠOD in the Slovenian school system. In P. Becker, B. Humberstone, C. Loynes, & J. Schirp (Eds.), The changing world of outdoor learning in Europe (1st ed; pp. 207–220). Routledge, Routledge research in education.

Susman, K., & Pavlin, J. (2020). Improvements in teachers’ knowledge and understanding of basic astronomy concepts through didactic games. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 19(6), 1020–1033.

Šebjanič, E., & Skribe Dimec, D. (2019). Primeri dobre prakse pouka na prostem v Sloveniji in tujini [Examples of good practice of outdoor education in Slovenia and abroad]. Sodobna pedagogika, 70(2), 70–85.

Štemberger, V. (2012). Šolsko okolje kot učno okolje ali pouk zunaj [The school environment as a learning environment or outdoor lesson]. Razredni pouk, 14(1/2), 84−90.

Taštanoska, T. (2017). The education system in the Republic of Slovenia 2016. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.https://eng.cmepius.si/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Education-System-in-the-Republic-of-Slovenia-2016-17.pdf

Teach Junkie. (2017). 19 Fun ideas & resources for force and motion. http://www.teachjunkie.com/sciences/19-fun-ideas-resources-force-and-motion/

Tomažič, I., & Vidic, T. (2013). Z igro v čarobni svet narave. Priročnik za naravoslovje v prvem triletju [To the magical world of nature through play. Handbook for science in the first triad]. Mladinska knjiga.

Torkar, G. (2013). Live what you teach & teach what you live: Student views on the acceptability of teachers’ value-related statements about sustainability and climate change. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 3(1), 45–58.

Torkar, G., Debevec, V., Johnson, B., & Manoli, C. (2020). Assessing children’s environmental worldviews and concerns. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal. https://www.cepsj.si/index.php/cepsj/article/view/793/401, https://doi.org/10.26529/cepsj.793

Tovey, H. (2008). Playing outdoors. Spaces and places, risk and challenge. Open University Press.

Tuuling, L., Õun, T., & Ugaste, A. (2018). Teachers’ opinions on utilising outdoor learning in the preschools of Estonia. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 19(4), 358–370.

Vidmar, E. (2016). Vpliv izkušenj učiteljev razrednega pouka na njihovo mnenje o vključevanju šolskega vrta v pouk [The influence of in-service primary school teachers’ experiences on their opinion on the integration of the school garden into lessons] (Master’s thesis). Pedagoška fakulteta.

Vodopivec, I., Papotnik, A., Gostinčar Blagotinšek, A., Skribe Dimec, D., & Balon, A. (2011). Naravoslovje in tehnika. Učni načrt [Science and technology. National curriculum]. Ministrstvo RS za šolstvo in šport, Zavod RS za šolstvo.

Vogrinc, J. (2008). Kvalitativno raziskovanje na pedagoškem področju [Qualitative research in the field of education]. Pedagoška fakulteta.

Waite S. (Ed.). (2011). Children learning outside the classroom: From birth to eleven. Sage.

Waite, S. (2010). Losing our way? The downward path for outdoor learning for children aged 2-11 years. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 10(2), 111–126.

Walan, S., & Chang Rundgren, S-N. (2014). Investigating preschool and primary school teachers’ self-efficacy and needs in teaching science: A pilot study. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 4(1), 51–67.