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How do we know a child is connected to nature? How is nature connection measured? Do differences in the quantity and quality of nature connection make a difference? The counseling and educational fields both have branches obsessed with assessment and measurement. I wonder about the possibility of measuring nature connection and whether such a measure could be used to look for correlations between the degree of nature connection and it's impact on other measures such as physical health, mental/emotional health, connection to self, people to people connections, community connections, creativity, etc. What do you think?

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Fantastic question, Todd.....it is so difficult to formulate objective assessments of emotional/spiritual/creative connections.  I worry about assessment tools becoming "product-driven."  I believe the process of community with nature is much more important than the end product.  Our society is obsessed with end products, with the end result of a lack of enjoyment of the process.  Having said that, to be considered a "legitimate" program and to be taken seriously by professionals there must be assessment and data to plug into statistical models.  There is a group of neurologists that figured out a way to test immune system changes due to facilitated drum circles.  The tests did show a positive affect on the immune system in several different demographics after drum circle participation.  This research led to a highly respected protocol for drum circles.  (Remo Health Rhythms).....the questions you posed are some of the same ones these researchers used.  Maybe there is a way to quantify nature connections.  We know they are there!  We have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the connections, so there must be biological evidence as well.  So....obviously I have no answers, but I love the question.

Hi Todd

 

I am about to start a psychology Masters here in New Zealand and I am interested in that very question. There is a Connection to Nature scale, but this was designed for adults and has criticism of its reliability.  I am interested in finding a way to measure the connection quantitatively and sensitively and then look at ways to increase this connection.


Katy Hoskins said:

Fantastic question, Todd.....it is so difficult to formulate objective assessments of emotional/spiritual/creative connections.  I worry about assessment tools becoming "product-driven."  I believe the process of community with nature is much more important than the end product.  Our society is obsessed with end products, with the end result of a lack of enjoyment of the process.  Having said that, to be considered a "legitimate" program and to be taken seriously by professionals there must be assessment and data to plug into statistical models.  There is a group of neurologists that figured out a way to test immune system changes due to facilitated drum circles.  The tests did show a positive affect on the immune system in several different demographics after drum circle participation.  This research led to a highly respected protocol for drum circles.  (Remo Health Rhythms).....the questions you posed are some of the same ones these researchers used.  Maybe there is a way to quantify nature connections.  We know they are there!  We have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the connections, so there must be biological evidence as well.  So....obviously I have no answers, but I love the question.

Hi Todd and all,

A question certainly worthy of exploration.  Prior to joining this forum I hadn't taken steps to connect my counseling life with my love for nature.  A child's connectedness with nature seems an easy question for any adult - requests for outings, engagement while in nature and those great rosy cheeks seem to tell the tale.   I like some of the work by Corey Keyes where mental health as flourishing/languishing provides us with a road map to consider health and well-being. When children experience things larger than themselves and connect in real ways with others, demonstrating well-being, could we quantify this flourishing?  

 

Wow Katy, the drum circle research sounds pretty awesome showing a direct impact on physiology. It makes me wonder what parts of our physiology in impacted the most by nature connection. I wonder what parts of the brain light up in response to experiences in nature: encounters with animals, watching sunrise, or listening the a running brook?

Katy Hoskins said:

Fantastic question, Todd.....it is so difficult to formulate objective assessments of emotional/spiritual/creative connections.  I worry about assessment tools becoming "product-driven."  I believe the process of community with nature is much more important than the end product.  Our society is obsessed with end products, with the end result of a lack of enjoyment of the process.  Having said that, to be considered a "legitimate" program and to be taken seriously by professionals there must be assessment and data to plug into statistical models.  There is a group of neurologists that figured out a way to test immune system changes due to facilitated drum circles.  The tests did show a positive affect on the immune system in several different demographics after drum circle participation.  This research led to a highly respected protocol for drum circles.  (Remo Health Rhythms).....the questions you posed are some of the same ones these researchers used.  Maybe there is a way to quantify nature connections.  We know they are there!  We have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the connections, so there must be biological evidence as well.  So....obviously I have no answers, but I love the question.

Thanks for the link to the article on flourishing-languishing. After skimming it I am thinking if the flourishing-languishing model represents more of qualitative measurement (quality of living) and the traditional mental disorder paradigm more quantitative? I'll have to take another look at the article. I have read The Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature and the authors: Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Even McGown decided to come of with there own qualitative educational outcomes called Indicators of Awareness: common sense, aliveness and agility, inquisitive focus, caring and tending, service to community, awe and reverence, self-sufficiency, and quiet mind. Or, much like you've commented "rosy cheeks" they say their aiming for "sparkle in the eye."

For the Love of Nature said:

Hi Todd and all,

A question certainly worthy of exploration.  Prior to joining this forum I hadn't taken steps to connect my counseling life with my love for nature.  A child's connectedness with nature seems an easy question for any adult - requests for outings, engagement while in nature and those great rosy cheeks seem to tell the tale.   I like some of the work by Corey Keyes where mental health as flourishing/languishing provides us with a road map to consider health and well-being. When children experience things larger than themselves and connect in real ways with others, demonstrating well-being, could we quantify this flourishing?  

 

Hey Tim,  I wonder what indigenous people who still live in close connection to nature would say about how to measure connection to nature? I wonder what someone who knows a lot about mirror neurons would say about their usefulness in measuring nature connection.? I hope you can continue to share what you discover.

Tim Heetkamp said:

Hi Todd

 

I am about to start a psychology Masters here in New Zealand and I am interested in that very question. There is a Connection to Nature scale, but this was designed for adults and has criticism of its reliability.  I am interested in finding a way to measure the connection quantitatively and sensitively and then look at ways to increase this connection.


Katy Hoskins said:

Fantastic question, Todd.....it is so difficult to formulate objective assessments of emotional/spiritual/creative connections.  I worry about assessment tools becoming "product-driven."  I believe the process of community with nature is much more important than the end product.  Our society is obsessed with end products, with the end result of a lack of enjoyment of the process.  Having said that, to be considered a "legitimate" program and to be taken seriously by professionals there must be assessment and data to plug into statistical models.  There is a group of neurologists that figured out a way to test immune system changes due to facilitated drum circles.  The tests did show a positive affect on the immune system in several different demographics after drum circle participation.  This research led to a highly respected protocol for drum circles.  (Remo Health Rhythms).....the questions you posed are some of the same ones these researchers used.  Maybe there is a way to quantify nature connections.  We know they are there!  We have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the connections, so there must be biological evidence as well.  So....obviously I have no answers, but I love the question.

Hey Tim,

 

Is this the The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature by F.Stephan Mayer and Cynthia McPherson Frantz? Have you seen the Nature Relatedness Scale by Elizabeth K. Nisbet John M. Zelenski Steven A. Murphy ?

The Nature Relatedness Scale: Linking Individuals' Connection With Nature to Environmental Concern and Behavior  


Tim Heetkamp said:

Hi Todd

 

I am about to start a psychology Masters here in New Zealand and I am interested in that very question. There is a Connection to Nature scale, but this was designed for adults and has criticism of its reliability.  I am interested in finding a way to measure the connection quantitatively and sensitively and then look at ways to increase this connection.


Katy Hoskins said:

Fantastic question, Todd.....it is so difficult to formulate objective assessments of emotional/spiritual/creative connections.  I worry about assessment tools becoming "product-driven."  I believe the process of community with nature is much more important than the end product.  Our society is obsessed with end products, with the end result of a lack of enjoyment of the process.  Having said that, to be considered a "legitimate" program and to be taken seriously by professionals there must be assessment and data to plug into statistical models.  There is a group of neurologists that figured out a way to test immune system changes due to facilitated drum circles.  The tests did show a positive affect on the immune system in several different demographics after drum circle participation.  This research led to a highly respected protocol for drum circles.  (Remo Health Rhythms).....the questions you posed are some of the same ones these researchers used.  Maybe there is a way to quantify nature connections.  We know they are there!  We have plenty of anecdotal evidence of the connections, so there must be biological evidence as well.  So....obviously I have no answers, but I love the question.

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