Studies examining the impact of NatureWise for participating children (e.g., van der Waal et al., 2012) have suggested that, in comparison with their peers, NatureWise participants:
Were better positioned to establish direct contact with nature,
Gained more confidence and interest in nature, which helps them understand information about nature that comes to them through the media,
Were better positioned to develop empathy towards other species,
Came to see the importance of caring for nature, having had hands-on opportunities to care for nature,
Had opportunities to enjoy being in nature aesthetically, psycho-motorically, and intellectually.
All these effects combined appear to make children more inclined to actively seek nature.
Furthermore the researchers found that:
Children in strongly urbanized areas seemed more surprised when exposed to NatureWise activities; children in rural areas seemed more familiar with NatureWise activities and could occasionally show boredom.
Children in strongly urbanized areas seemed more interested in—and showed more involvement with—environmental issues or the “problem-driven” side of nature; children in rural areas seemed to react less from a societal point of view.
When children are asked to define or describe nature, children primarily referred to nature they are accustomed to in daily life (i.e., not exotic nature as shown in many television programs or exotic zoo animals).
The richer and closer nature is in daily life, the more children could speak about nature in different ways, sympathize with, and ‘naturally understand’ nature.
Participation in NatureWise also resulted in a number of positive effects among the teachers, especially among those who: 1) already had some affinity with nature and nature education, 2) were open to nature education from a professional development perspective, and/or 3) were part of a school characterized by a positive pedagogical climate emphasizing continuous improvement. Where these conditions (or a subset thereof) existed, teachers appeared to view their pupils differently: they discovered qualities that they failed to see before, or only moderately recognized, in a regular classroom setting.
In addition, teachers came to appreciate the value of emotions, the affective domain, and using all the senses—both for children’s personal development, and also for teaching and learning in general. As a result these teachers are better positioned to see the educational potential of the green outdoors, even in highly urbanized areas, and seem more capable in connecting learning outside school with learning inside school. Another spin-off effect concerns the children’s parents. The anecdotes and narratives provided by both the teachers and the pupils suggest that NatureWise, at least in some instances, also positively influences the parents when the outdoor experiences are shared at home.