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EDPH411 Recreation and Outdoor Education in the Primary School

Unit rationale, description and aim

Outdoor education is experiential learning in, for, or about the outdoors. In the primary school context, outdoor education can be used as both content and medium relating to many aspects of the Australian Curriculum.

In this unit, pre-service teachers will learn to utilise outdoor education to explore specific curriculum, with a focus on sustainability and stewardship of creation. Pre-service teachers will develop skills in a variety of outdoor education settings by engaging in and evaluating outdoor activities, from both problem-solving and interaction perspectives. In addition, they will survey curriculum materials and resources in recreation and outdoor education for use with primary school children. Pre-service teachers will gain knowledge and skills to create school-based outdoor education programs and engage in appropriate evaluation procedures.

The aim of this unit is to provide pre-service teachers with real-world experiences and learning opportunities the knowledge, understanding and skills to plan for, integrate, and conduct outdoor education safely within and beyond a primary school context. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1     Explain the potential of the outdoor classroom and experiential learning to meet curriculum requirements and student needs (GA4; APST 1.1, 1.2, 4.4) 

LO2    Interpret the outdoor experience as a medium for the development of human potential, healthy living, and the role it can play in addressing global issues such as sustainability and caring for country (GA5, APST 2.4) 

LO3     Implement skills and shared ideas for worthwhile and safe outdoor experiential learning (GA6; APST 3.3, 4.2. 4.4, 7.2) 

LO4     Generate plans for engaging outdoor experiences that encompass the environmental aspects of the outdoor classroom (GA7; APST 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 3.3, 4.2) 

LO5     Reflect on your outdoor learning experiences and critique strategies for processing these experiences (GA4, GA8; GA9; APST 2.6, 3.4, 4.5).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

2.3 Use curriculum, assessment and reporting knowledge to design learning sequences and lesson plans.

2.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of, and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

2.6 Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

3.5 Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

4.2 Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.

4.5 Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.


Topics will include:

  • Introduction to recreation and outdoor education
  • Australian Curriculum, outdoor education and cross-curriculum priorities: learning outcomes and assessment
  • Recreation planning and programming
  • Legal liability and outdoor education
  • Initiative activities and problem solving
  • Art and craft activities utilising the environment
  • Outdoor education and nature activities
  • Environmental studies and sustainability
  • Wilderness and minimal impact
  • Nature and camp-craft games
  • Recreation opportunities for the disabled
  • Major game activities, for example, archery, golf, lawn bowls.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit pre-service teachers will undertake a range of teaching and learning strategies, due to the nature and external demands of the unit. These will include lectures, individual and group work, workshops, problem-solving, from both a school and university perspective. Off-campus activities will be a feature of this unit, including an overnight camp, aquatic and land activities, and independent excursions, whereby pre-service teachers will be able to put into practice outdoor education philosophies learnt on campus.

The unit is specifically designed to provide reflective learning experiences for pre-service teachers to construct their own understandings of effective pedagogy meeting students’ needs, underpinning the learning required to complete the assessment tasks and meet the learning outcomes of the unit. There will be some choice in the activities to further experience in areas of interest.

This is a 10 credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the teaching period, comprising of directed tasks and self-study. An emphasis is placed on pre-service teachers as adult learners with responsibility for their own learning and problem solving. The learning in this unit is inquiry-based, learner-focused and student-centred.

Technology Enhanced Learning

Technology will be used throughout the unit. Lectures will be recorded and accessible for review via LEO. Practical workshops and tutorials are not possible to record. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment in this unit is designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have the required knowledge and understanding of the potential of outdoor education to meet a variety of curriculum requirements and student needs (task one- essay). The assessment also provides the opportunity to measure students’ ability to implement their knowledge acquired in task one to plan appropriately for outdoor education in accordance with relevant policies and conduct risk assessment (task two- activity handout and risk assessment). The final task requires that students demonstrate their ability to critically reflect to process outdoor education experiences, made relevant by processing their own experiences.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks and achieve a cumulative mark of more than 50%.

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Written assignments will be submitted and returned via TurnItIn

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

1,200 word essay (individual task) 


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 2

Activity Handout and risk assessment (group assignment)


LO3, LO4

GA6, GA7

Assessment Task 3

Outdoor Education Experiences Media Clip (individual task)



GA4, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Australian Curriculum

Australian Curriculum – Health and Physical Education

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Relevant State and Territory curriculum documents. 

 Recommended references

Brown, M., & Dyson, B. P. (2006). Pursing HPE outcomes through outdoor education. In R. Tinning, L. McCuaig, & lisahunter (Eds.), Teaching Health and Physical Education in Australian Schools. (pp.180-191). Frenchs Forest: Pearson.

Cosgriff, M. (2016). The reconceptualization of outdoor education in the primary school classroom in Aotearoa New Zealand: how might we do it? Education 3-13, 44(3), 339-352.

Gray, T., & Dickson, T. (2012). Risk management in the outdoors. Cambridge University Press.

Humberstone, B., Prince, H. & Henderson, K.A. (2016). Routledge international handbook of outdoor studies. New York: Routledge.

McMaster, N. (2019). Teaching health and physical education in early childhood and the primary years. Australia: Oxford University Press.

Meldrum, K., & Peters, J. (2012). Learning to teach health and physical education: The student, the teacher and the curriculum. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Appropriate Journals and Websites

Outdoor Education Australia website

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