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The Montcrest Research Initiative

The Montcrest Research Initiative began with the help of the Imagine Fund started by David Thompson, our head of school. The initiative is aimed at making research a part of our school, through the commission of research projects undertaken by Ben Blakey, our teacher/researcher specializing in outdoor education, as well as through helping staff with empirical research projects.

Nature-Based Learning Study #1

The first study was published in February of 2016 with a two-fold purpose, of which the full study and executive summary are included below.

  • The first purpose is to describe staff perspectives of the current state of Nature-Based Learning (NBL) at Montcrest, identifying supports and barriers to further integrating nature in the school curriculum and programming in order to share with other schools and educational communities 
  • The second purpose is to provide a baseline from which to improve our own efficacy with NBL.

Executive Summary

Full Study

Nature-Based Learning Study #2

The second study will be finished in 2019, and includes data from four participating schools: Appleby College, Pickering College, Montcrest School, and another leading independent school. The study looks at NBL in Grade 6 - 8 science as well as school culture from teacher and student perspectives in two phases. The first phase of the study involves audio interviews with a qualitative methodology, and was completed in the spring of 2017 with teachers who taught science in Grades 6 - 8 across all schools. The second phase of the study involves an online quantitative survey delivered to students in Grades 6 - 8 across all schools. The full study and executive summary will be published when finished.

Staff Research Projects

The first staff research project to be completed and published as part of the Research Initiative was done by Catherine Ionno-Dias as a requirement for the completion of her Masters in Arts Education at the University of Iowa. Her study looked at the link between NBL & art-making, as well as how it translates to engagement in and enjoyment of art-making among Grade 3 and 4 students. Please see below for the full study.

Full Study

In many ways these studies are opening up the conversation within the Montcrest community, as well as the broader educational community. If you're interested in discussing Outdoor Education in greater detail, please don't hesitate to contact Ben Blakey.

Ben Blakey
Outdoor Education Specialist

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