Research

I am currently a fifth year PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at UBC. My doctoral research project is a participatory action research project developing professional learning communities with in-service teachers to bridge emerging theories with teaching practices that include unstructured outdoor play as a pedagogical approach.

I have over 25 years of experience as a professional educator, and currently teach in a public school outdoor and garden classroom. To read more about my teaching practice, read this post.

As a doctoral student, I am honoured to have my own research funded by SSHRC and to be learning from expert scholars in my field. The following research projects have shaped my learning thus far:

Graduate Research Assistant

Go Play Outside! Early Learning and Child Care (GPO-ELCC)

Primary Researcher: Mariana Brussoni, Director Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) I Faculty of Medicine | Pediatrics | School of Population & Public Health BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit, The University of British Columbia | BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Funded by: Employment and Social Development Partnerships Program Canada

Learn more: Brussoni Lab Early Childhood Outside Project

Publications

Cheng, T., Brussoni, M., Han, C., Munday, F., Zeni, M. (2022). Perceived Challenges of Early Childhood Educators in Promoting Unstructured Outdoor Play: An Ecological Systems Perspective. Early Years: an international research journal.

Brussoni, M., Han, C., Jacob, J., Munday, F., Zeni, M., Walters M., Cheng. T., Schneeberg, A., Fox, E., Oberle, E. (2021). A Web-Based Risk Reframing Intervention to Influence Early Childhood Educators’ Attitudes and Supportive Behaviors Toward Outdoor Play: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Research Protocols. doi:10.2196/31041

Paper Presentations

Munday, F., Zeni, M., Han, C., Cheng, T., & Brussoni, M (2019). A digital risk-reframing tool to shift early childhood educators’ perceptions of outdoor play: Intervention mapping approach. A poster presented at the Big Difference BC conference. (PDF).

Cheng, T., Munday, F., Zeni, M., Han, C., & Brussoni, M (2019). Challenges early childhood educators face in promoting outdoor play – A qualitative study. A poster presented at the UBC Life Science Research Night. (PDF)

Chan, T., Zeni, M. (2021, March 19). Perceived challenges of early childhood educators in promoting unstructured outdoor play: ‘They limit it because they want always to be safe.’ [Paper presentation]. University of British Columbia, Education Graduate Students Conference: Transformations & Translations – Curriculum and Change, Vancouver, BC, Canada. 

Knowledge Dissemination: Final Tool

Check out the risk re-framing tool for educators here! Outside Play.ca

Outdoor Play Research Collaborator

Go Outside and Play! Investigating outdoor play and children’s positive development in schools and communities

Primary Investigator: Eva Oberle, UBC Faculty of Medicine, School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) Human Early Learning partnership (HELP)

Funded by: SSHRC ($151, 895)

Publications

Molyneux, T., Oberle, E., Zeni, M. (2022). Choose Your Own Adventure: Promoting Social and Emotional Development through Outdoor Learning. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Oberle, E., Zeni, M., & Munday, F., & Brussoni, M. (2021). Support factors and barriers to outdoor learning in elementary schools: A systemic perspective. American Journal of Health Education.

Knowledge Dissemination:

Paper Presentations

Oberle, E., Zeni, M., & Mundy, F. (April, 2021). Support factors and barriers for outdoor learning in elementary schools: A systemic perspective. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Virtual conference meeting.

Research Collaborator

Capturing pandemic experiences in outdoor learning and applying lessons learned to support equitable access

Primary Investigator: Tanya Halsall, Adjunct Research Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University

Funded by: SSHRC Insight Grant ($41, 952)

Publications

Halsall, T., Mahmoud, K., Iyer, S. N., Orpana, H., Zeni, M. & Matheson, K. (2022, submitted). Considerations related to the use of time and physical space in the context of a community implementation of the Icelandic Prevention Model: A shifting landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic. Submitted to the Journal of Adolescent Research.

 

Research Collaborator

Intergenerational Landed Learning Project with The Classroom Gardener

Primary Investigators: Dr. Sandra Scott and Dr. Doug Adler, University of British Columbia Faculty of Education, EDCP

Funded by: NSERC ($312,400)

Outdoor play