Development of an Outdoor Education Curriculum in Singapore through a "Deliberative" Perspective - Inclusion of the Commonplace of the Teacher

Project Number
OER 43/12 MT

Project Duration
December 2012 - September 2015


This proposed study responds to the educational initiative of the Ministry of Education in Singapore to have a newly prescribed outdoor education (OE) curriculum in order to promote a more holistic and values-infused education. To address the challenge of variability in provision and quality of outdoor education programmes currently run by external vendors, this new OE curriculum is scheduled to be implemented by physical education (PE) teachers in 2014. Aiming to uncover the perceptions that pre- and in-service PE teachers in Singapore (secondary school level) have of outdoor education, this study attempts to include teachers' perceptions as a form of curriculum knowledge (Reid, 2006) to influence the development of an OE curriculum, thus bridging the gaps between curriculum planned by central authority and curriculum enacted by teachers. In employing a mixed-methods research approach, a questionnaire survey will be used to probe for teachers' background information (n=200) and their prior engagement with OE. The survey will also be crucially used to select participants who will participate in subsequent semi-structured interviews (n=35, each lasting one to one and a half hours). These interviews serve to uncover teachers' understandings, aims, attitudes and beliefs towards outdoor education and the teaching of it, and their prior experiences in enacting outdoor education activities. Secondary data sources such as information from the schools' websites will also be collected. Phenomenographic and ethnographic methods of data analysis will be employed. The phenomenographic analysis of all collected data will result in categories that capture the variation in qualitatively different ways in which teachers perceive and experience OE, as well as the nature of these differences. Coupled with an ethnographic analysis, a contextual understanding of the various schools' settings, activities and instructional practices can emerge. In view of little evidence of rich descriptive research data that capture teachers' understanding towards a research domain like OE in Singapore, and how insights into teacher perceptions have been translated into a curriculum framework that would inform the ways in which outdoor education would be conducted in practice in schools, the proposed study attempts to illuminate this aspect of education and to fill the gap in local research. We anticipate that the findings of the study can also be drawn upon to inform: (1) the development of the new Singapore OE curriculum; (2) the possibility of including elements of ''Adventure Therapy'' into the OE curriculum as a way to enhance learning for low-achieving students; and (3) teacher education and professional development programs targeted at building teachers' capacity to enact an OE curriculum.

Research Themes
Curriculum Innovation & Reform**

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 12 (2013): Taking an Active Role in Curriculum Development

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