“And it made me feel good inside”: Initial Evidence and Future Methods for Evaluating Nature School Effectiveness

Mahala Volpe, Victoria Derr, Steven B. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nature school settings provide opportunities for experiential learning across many developmental domains. This study focused on an afterschool nature program in Santa Cruz County, California, which serves kindergarten through fifth grade students. The study was designed as a pilot to both learn about the program’s effectiveness, and to test the feasibility and effectiveness of methods for sustained program evaluation. The study showed positive and statistically significant results for most developmental areas and that teachers considered most effective those lessons that engage multiple developmental domains. Future program assessments should examine the number of developmental domains lessons engage and should partner with a local university or expert for periodic in-depth evaluation.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalChildren, Youth, and Environments
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019


  • forest schools
  • nature schools
  • outdoor education
  • child development
  • children


  • Education
  • Life Sciences
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

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