Drawing from studies of Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education (CASE) the outdoors context is an excellent vehicle for the promotion of cognitive conflict – the experience of a phenomena or alternative idea that is often unexpected and leads to the construction of further understanding.
The activities in the programme are structured so following observations in the local environment the pupils are challenged to consider the scientific explanation for a particular condition. This leads to a number of alternative ideas emerging to promote individual cognitive conflict. Students need to have the opportunity to take what they have observed outside, the ideas that have been shared and any experiences of conflict and try and apply this to a related question.
Cognitive development is secured through metacognition, an opportunitiy for the learner to consider how their learning has been challenged and transformed. Time is allocated in the activities specifically for this. Pupils need to be encouraged to reflect on how they arrived at their reconstructed level of science understanding and reflect on how interactions within their group enabled or hindered the process.