Fall 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Patty Born Selly

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Carla Gull

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Alissa Visscher


The main motivation behind this capstone research project was to more fully understand the four major program models of nature-based preschools. This qualitative, multiple case study sought to uncover the benefits and challenges of these models and apply these benefits and challenges to opening a diverse, nature-based preschool in South Bend, Indiana. Data collection included interviews and site visits to four nature-based preschool program models in the Midwest and two interviews with local early childhood experts. The study concluded each nature-based preschool program model had both benefits and challenges unique to that model. Two additional differences were found as well. Furthermore, it was determined that evidence of barriers for low-income families in attending nature-based preschools exists across all models. These conclusions are relevant for anyone seeking to develop a new nature-based program. In relation to South Bend, Indiana the study found that new high-quality preschool programs are needed and two promising models were identified for opening a new diverse, nature-based preschool.

Research Methodology

Case Study


Early Childhood, Environmental Studies, Nature-based preschool

Included in

Education Commons