John D. Coley


This paper addresses the differences in experiences that exist among rural, suburban, and urban children and adults and the subsequent ramifications these experiences have for standardized testing. Through a nature related experiences report survey, the parents of participating children rated the frequency of their childrens science and nature interests and experiences. The survey involved ratings of the childrens indirect experiences, structured direct experiences, and unstructured direct experiences. Indirect experiences would be watching television or reading books about nature, structured direct experiences would involve caring for pets, or the going to the zoo, and unstructured direct would involve experiences in nature in areas not changed by man, such as camping, hiking, or exploring. Urban children are having the most indirect, and structured direct experiences with nature, while rural children are having the most unstructured direct experiences. Parents reported on their own activities in nature as well, which determined that urban parents are having the most indirect experiences with nature, through television and literature. However, the rural parents are having the most structured direct experiences, in the form or gardening and pet care, as well as unstructured direct experiences, in the form of camping, hiking, and exploring in the great outdoors. Correlations with the students scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System MCAS in science produced negative correlations for indirect experiences with test scores, and positive correlations for both structured direct, and unstructured direct experiences and test scores. In sum, this data supports the value of the types and frequencies of experiences children are having outside of school, demonstrating that these experiences may be influential in the childrens ability to reason and perform on standardized tests.

Date Accepted


Publication Date


Subject Categories

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, Educational tests and measurements, Nature study


Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, MCAS, Standardized testing, psychology

Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Rights Holder

Elizabeth Lynne Brown

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