PME in Primary Education
Emily’s research on this project and her keen interest in outdoor education have inspired her to create engaging maths and science outdoor activities with her students.
Research Paper Title
An Exploration of Approaches to Outdoor Learning in Maths and Science
This integrative literature review explored the approaches used by teachers to incorporate outdoor learning effectively into their teaching of maths and science. The challenges associated with outdoor learning in maths and science were also investigated, along with the strategies used to navigate these challenges. Twelve papers were carefully selected for this project; these papers were explored through thematic analysis, and five main themes were uncovered. The papers emphasised the importance of fun activities that are relevant to the children’s lives, while several papers detailed how iPads could be used during outdoor learning activities. The role of group work in outdoor learning was also evident, along with the importance of experiences in nature for both children and teachers.
Emily Jones graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree from University College Dublin and went on to work in the science industry. She then continued her studies at UCD and graduated with a First-Class Honours Master’s Degree in Food, Nutrition and Health. Emily worked as a senior sailing instructor and programme director at yacht clubs in Ireland and the US over several seasons. In this role, she gained experience working with children of all ages. Graduating with First-Class Honours in the Professional Master of Education (PME) from Hibernia College in 2021, Emily has now completed her first year of teaching Sixth Class at a primary school in Dublin. Emily’s research on this project and her keen interest in outdoor education have inspired her to create engaging maths and science outdoor activities with her students.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
The research project I undertook focused on exploring effective approaches to outdoor learning in maths and science education. I conducted an integrative literature review, analysing various papers to uncover themes related to outdoor education. I investigated how teachers incorporate outdoor learning into their teaching of maths and science, the challenges they face and the strategies they use to overcome those challenges. Through thematic analysis I identified five main themes: the importance of engaging activities, the use of technology like iPads, group work dynamics, the significance of experiences in nature and the need for teacher training. The goal was to gain insights into best practices for outdoor learning in maths and science.
What motivated you to undertake this research?
Before completing the PME in Hibernia College, I studied science and majored in neuroscience at UCD. I then went on to study nutrition at UCD. With my academic background and practical experience I found myself drawn to STEM subjects while studying at Hibernia College. When I was teaching during my school placements, I could see how well the children were engaging with outdoor activities. Their enthusiasm for this practical way of learning along with my own interest in the outdoors, nature and STEM motivated me to undertake this research.
What impact has it had on your practice?
My research has significantly influenced my teaching practice. Drawing from the insights gained through the integrative literature review, I’ve been able to incorporate more outdoor activities into my maths and science lessons. This has allowed me to make the subjects more tangible and relevant for my students. The research emphasised the importance of hands-on experiences, collaborative learning, and the integration of technology. By embracing these principles, I’ve been able to create interactive lessons that encourage a love for learning and a connection to the natural world.
How important do you feel research will be in your future practice?
Research will continue to be an important part of my teaching practice in the future. This project has helped greatly with my teaching and I can see the value in keeping up to date with good quality research. By staying informed about the latest educational insights and best practices, I can continuously adapt my teaching methods to create engaging lessons.