Summer 2018


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Susan Manikowski

Content Expert

Sarah Johnson and Michael Wilde


The research question addressed in this project was the following: How can upper elementary educators in a rural school district utilize walking field trips and outdoor instruction to support achievement of state academic content areas and to integrate principles of environmental education? The project extends upper elementary school instructional settings to public lands, open spaces, parks, trails, river access points, and beyond in order to enhance the academic experience. It is informed by Sobel’s place-based education theory and Lieberman and Hoody’s proposal of using outdoor settings to connect multidisciplinary content areas. A walking field trip map was produced for a rural school district that charted local outdoor community resources within one mile of each school. Additionally, an instructional guide for how to replicate and utilize this strategy in other school districts was completed, detailing the benefits, selection of suitable routes, best practices, and logistical recommendations for before, during, and after the walking field trip. The author describes the advantages and limitations of this model and concludes that: 1) the use of walking field trips is a widely replicable technique that can be scaled and grown to fit other school districts and environmental settings; 2) the model provides potential advantages for students and teachers, including development of a sense of place, increase in environmental literacy, promotion of higher-test scores in state academic content areas, provision of real-world examples of curriculum themes, demonstration of healthy lifestyles, and heightened student engagement; 3) walking field trips complement local, statewide, and national efforts to connect youth to the outdoors and to provide meaningful environmental education opportunities.

Project Type

Map and Resource Guide


Classroom Management, Environmental Studies, Interdisciplinary Teaching, Teachers/ Teaching

Included in

Education Commons