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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Myers, Gene (O. Gene)

Second Advisor

Stanger, Nicholas

Third Advisor

Hanson, Richard (Professor of education)


ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnoses have been on the rise in children in the United States for the last twenty years due to multiple possible reasons (NIMH, 2016). Recent work on the subject, however, notes a positive correlation between exposure of children to experience-based nature therapy and the reduction of ADHD symptoms (Taylor & Kuo 2011). I hypothesized that implementing an intervention that is in an outdoor nature environment, that is experience-based and contains a learning objective would be correlated with a reduction of ADHD behaviors in elementary aged children. This study is a probe into the possibility of utilizing nature therapy and education lessons as a method to reduce ADHD symptoms in elementary aged children. I followed Keith Russell’s (2012) theoretical framework on nature therapy, and used adapted lesson plans from Project Learning Tree’s Environmental Education Activity Guide that have shown promise in raising subsequent engagement in the classroom, to create an intervention model that is comprised of four 30 - 45 minute lessons (Russell, 2012; Kuo et al 2018;, 2017). The program was delivered to two entire class groups in each of grades kindergarten through third grade in a northwest Washington State public elementary school I tested the intervention model on nine elementary aged students who were members of these classes. The program was completed in the span of two to four weeks. Participants had existing ADHD diagnoses, with individually-specific typical behaviors identified by school staff, and approval to participate. Counts of these ADHD behaviors pre- and post-lesson interventions were made during the 15 minutes directly before and after the 30 - 45 minute outdoor intervention. Four different lessons were offered, allowing a maximum of four pre- and post- counts per child. Three student participants engaged in the program all four times, five students participated in three of the four lessons, and one student participated in two days of the program. For eight of the nine students, I used the before and after comparison design. I used an anecdotal method of data collection based on applied behavior analysis for the ninth student. This student’s behaviors are recorded verbally by the researchers. The results of this pilot study indicate that outdoor lesson interventions (based on a therapeutic nature framework) can reduce ADHD related behaviors in elementary students in grades kindergarten through third grade. It is recommended that a larger sample be studied next to statistically test the effects detected here.




ADHD, Nature therapy, intervention, elementary education



Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder--Education (Elementary); Outdoor education; Environmental education




masters theses




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