Outdoor learning increases motivation

Students explore botany in the countryside.
Students explore botany in the countryside.
Copyrighted image: Valerie Frimmer, Technical University of Munich.

Students who long to be outdoors on a sunny day now have science on their side: Learning science subjects outdoors increases student motivation, according to a recent study.

    Researchers at the Technical University of Munich suggest that outdoor learning is motivational and secondary schools should offer students more opportunity to get outdoors.
    As part of the study, students participated in "researcher weeks" at the Berchtesgadener Land Student Research Center. From 2014 to 2016, 300 students studying secondary science subjects spent a week at the center -- including a two-day research expedition with experiments. Students completed questionnaires and shared their experiences during the outdoor class.
    While researchers concluded that basic psychological needs influenced the motivational behavior for students both indoors and outdoors equally, “The hands-on outdoor program appears to have the biggest impact to students' increased intrinsic motivation,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology.

UNDERSTANDING EVOLUTION: Another study also focuses on the understanding of science -- specifically, evolution. Even though the science of evolution is clear and unquestionable, some people choose not to believe it.   
      Instead, they believe religious stories about the beginning of time. But a new study about the understanding of evolution finds that whether Americans accept or reject evolution also depends on how well they understand it.
       Researchers asked questions with choices along a spectrum, “with one end geared toward creationism, the other toward evolution and several middle-ground alternatives,” according to a news release from the University of Pennsylvania. One question about the origin of plants and animals stated that “they were created by God in their current form; that they developed through natural processes guided by God; that they developed through natural processes set up by God but then continued on their own; or that they developed entirely through natural processes.”
      The more someone knows about evolutionary theory, the more likely they are to accept it, according to research published in the journal BioScience


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