Outdoor Ed: Academics

Educational Impact and Retention Study

5th Grade TEKS Concepts
Pine Cove Outdoor Education Program

Executive Summary

Pine Cove conducted an evaluation of its Outdoor Education Program to measure the educational impact it had on fifth grade students. The study focused on 80 students from two campuses from the Tyler Independent School District.

The outline of the study was to administer three tests:

It should be noted that the same test is administered three times and that it covers fifth grade TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) and TAKS information that the students are required to learn.

Research Question

The specific research question addressed is as follows:
How does the science instruction received through the Pine Cove Outdoor Education Program affect the students’ knowledge and understanding of science concepts?


Outdoor Education

The findings were as follows:

1. Prior to attending Pine Cove, 41 of 80 students failed the pre-test and only one student scored higher than 90.
2. Immediately following the trip, the number of failing students dropped to 27 and the number of A’s increased to 11.
3. Four-to-six weeks after the trip, the students’ retention rate did not drop off. The number of failing students continued to drop, and the number of A’s continued to rise.
4. There was no statistical difference in test scores between the campus that stayed overnight at Pine Cove and the campus that did not.


The results suggest that the students did receive a significant educational benefit from attending the Outdoor Education Program at Pine Cove. The students were able to associate concepts learned in the classroom with real, tangible examples from nature. The unique teaching tools used by the Outdoor Education staff made the concepts memorable. This allowed campus teachers the ability to refer back to these tools even weeks after the trip had concluded.

In closing, the students significantly raised their science scores and retained that knowledge even weeks after returning from Pine Cove.