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Tampere University of Applied Sciences (2020)

Connecting international schools to nature : a Dubai case study

Dawson, Charlotte

Titre : Connecting international schools to nature : a Dubai case study

Auteur : Dawson, Charlotte

Université de soutenance : Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Grade : Master’s Degree in Business Administration 2020

The purpose of this study was to explore the positive outcomes of children’s connection to nature (CTN), in addition to the reasons why children were not frequently connecting to nature, and how current challenges could be overcome. Research questions aimed to develop a view of best practice and set out recommendations for schools. The researcher’s role was to collate information from related studies, educators and environmental organisations in order to develop an accurate and holistic view.

Relevant theory and research were critically synthesised and analysed in order to develop a view of CTN in context. This review considered the background of Dubai, the urgency need for CTN, the contribution towards child and health, innovative approaches to CTN and opportunities in schools.

Data was collected using a mixed method approach. Questionnaires collected information from 50 participants and examined the benefits of encouraging a connection to nature in children, whether educators were aware of these impacts and also, which challenges prevented facilitation in their setting. Following this, three interviews explored the current barriers to nature connectedness and the strategies which different organisations successfully put in place to overcome them. The researcher simultaneously undertook action research, whilst working within a Dubai private school as a teacher-observer. Current practice and procedure was observed within this setting and linked to findings from other sources. Action research embedded theoretical findings in a school context.

Findings indicated 32 different reasons for encouraging a nature connection in children. The most common was to meet children’s physical and developmental needs, followed closely by encouraging an appreciation of nature. Nine key barriers to were identified. The most common results were related to curriculum pressure and teacher attitude and capability. A total of seven barriers were linked to preventing children’s connection to nature ; parent expectations, teacher confidence, resources, curriculum, leadership attitudes, teacher autonomy and policy. Recommendations for schools suggested strategies for overcoming the barriers of parent expectations, teacher confidence, resources and curriculum


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